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Environment

News about energy and the environment

Valley Public Radio

This winter has been an especially bad one for air quality in the San Joaquin Valley.  With long stretches of high particulate matter pollution (PM 2.5), staying informed with accurate info about air quality forecasts and current conditions is important for your health. We took a look at some popular apps for both iOS and Android devices that provide air quality information.

Florence Low / Department of Water Resources

The process of bringing running water to over 700 homes in East Porterville is now complete. The State Department of Water Resources made the announcement today, bringing an end to a saga that gained national attention during California’s most recent drought. Hundreds of homes in the unincorporated area east of the City of Porterville had their private wells go dry during the drought.  Many residents were forced to turn to bottled water, or water delivered to their homes by trucks.

CA WaterFix

The California Department of Water Resources has announced it will scale back Governor Jerry Brown's plan to build two water tunnels beneath the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta. Under the proposal released today the California WaterFix would be broken up into two phases. The first phase would include only one tunnel with a capacity of 6,000 cfs. A second, smaller tunnel with a capacity of 3,000 cfs could be added at a later date.

The Valley Air District has issued a health cautionary statement amid a weather pattern that could contribute to another round of elevated particulate pollution in the San Joaquin Valley. The district says stagnant air conditions may result in warmer temperatures, but residents should take care to avoid heavy outdoor activities during periods of elevated particulate matter concentrations. Particulate pollution, which is also known as soot, is harmful and has been correlated with asthma attacks, bronchial infections, heart attacks and stroke.

US Fish and Wildlife Service

The 2016-2017 water year was one of the wettest on record in California. While all that water in the system was enough to officially end the state’s drought, its impact on endangered species is another story, especially when it comes to the Delta smelt. A survey conducted in October 2017 by state and federal agencies found only 2 of the fish, the lowest number on record.

National Weather Service

The recent rains mark the first big storm to hit Central California this rainy season. But are they enough to hold off the dreaded "d-word" of drought? We ask Fresno-based meteorologist Sean Boyd about the short and long-term outlook, and about the recent two week stretch that left valley residents breathing some of the worst air in twenty years. 

Laura Tsutsui / KVPR

The San Joaquin River is the second largest in California. Last year, it was listed by an environmental group as the second most endangered river in America. Recent years of drought haven’t taken their toll, but an exceptionally wet 2017 spelled optimism for many involved in the San Joaquin River Restoration Program. While significant obstacles to bring back the river’s salmon remain, there’s also progress swimming right below the surface.

Nearly 40 years ago, back when Peter Moyle was a professor at Fresno State, the San Joaquin River was different. 

Westlands Water District website

Growers in the Westlands Water District hope congressional approval of a deal with the federal government could resolve a long-standing problem on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley - drainage. However final approval of the deal reached in 2015 remains both elusive and controversial.  

Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

California’s historic drought may be over, but scientists are still hard at work assessing its impact on the ecosystem. Perhaps nowhere is that work more interesting, or important, than with the Sierra’s Giant Sequoias. These ancient trees have weathered drought, fires and floods for millennia. But how did they fare in this most recent dry spell, and what can their health tell us about other problems in the forest?

Google / Aclima

An online tool from tech giant Google is giving California residents a new look at ground level air pollution in their neighborhoods. The company announced this week new air pollution data collected by its fleet of Google Street View cars.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

One of the most widely used insecticides in America is the subject of a regulatory battle. Earlier this year the Trump administration chose not to move ahead with efforts to ban chlorpyrifos, first put in place by the Obama administration.  Now, California is in the process of tightening its own regulations of the insecticide, and that has some farmers searching for answers.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new proposal from the National Park Service would result in a big hike in Yosemite National Park entrance fees during the popular summer months. Under the proposal, which also applies to 16 other parks including Sequoia & Kings Canyon, the entrance fee between May first and September 30 would be $70 per vehicle, $50 per motorcycle, and $30 per person. The funds would be used to improve facilities, infrastructure, and visitor services, with an emphasis on deferred maintenance projects.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

It’s been a while since the last Outdoorsy episode. A lot has happened. Kerry got married, put together a big series of health stories, and Ezra has some big news of his own.

This is his last episode with Outdoorsy. He’s leaving Valley Public Radio for an environment reporter job with Capital Public Radio in Sacramento. He says he’ll miss this area, but he’s psyched to explore the outdoors in places like Lake Tahoe. We’ll miss Ezra a lot, but we’re excited for him. And before he goes, we had to get him into the outdoors one more time for us.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The fires burning in Northern California have now grown to over 200,000 acres and have killed more than 40 people. Closer to home the area off Highway 41 near Yosemite is recovering from the Railroad Fire that threatened communities, resorts and even a large grove of giant sequoias.

But perhaps the most iconic feature at risk of being lost was the historic Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad.

Homeowners Near Yosemite Are Struggling To Stay Insured

Oct 17, 2017
Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

With fires burning across California devastating entire communities, homeowners are beginning to file claims with their insurance companies. But in the mountains of eastern Madera County, many homeowners say they’re losing their insurance during a time when they could need it most.

Frank Ealand lives in an area near Coarsegold in the foothills of eastern Madera County that insurance companies call a fire prone zone. He says in the past three years his homes have gone without insurance after being dropped by companies three times.

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