environment

Cannon Michael runs an 11,000-acre farm in California's Central Valley. His family has been farming in the state for six generations.

Michael's multimillion-dollar operation usually provides a wealth of crops including tomatoes, onions and melons. But recently, he's pretty pessimistic about work.

"It is going to be a year that's probably, at best, maybe break even. Or maybe lose some money," Michael tells NPR's Arun Rath.

Spring Rain And Snow Mean Increased Water Allocations

Apr 18, 2014
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Rain and snow may not have pushed California out of its drought, but the late season precipitation will mean a little more water for State Water Project users. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, there

At a recent rally in Fresno County, Calif., farmers in plaid shirts stood side by side with migrant farmworkers in ball caps, holding signs that read "sin agua, no futuro" and "no water, no food." Fresno is the top agriculture-producing county in the U.S., with more than $6 billion in annual sales.

Protesters argued that farms could go out of business without more water, and there would be mass layoffs. That rhetoric may be familiar, but the two groups' alliance is decidedly unusual.

Cap-and-Trade Money Would Go To Affordable Housing and Transit Under Proposal

Apr 14, 2014
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Money generated from California’s cap-and-trade program would go to mass transit, sustainable affordable housing and high speed rail under a proposal by Senate leader Darrell Steinberg. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, Steinberg is backtracking from his previous proposal.

Drought Operation Plan For Two Water Projects Released

Apr 10, 2014
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California and federal agencies released a plan Wednesday about how they’ll operate the state and federal water projects during the drought. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the plan does not change water allocations.

The operations plan provides a guideline of how the two water systems will deal with the drought from now until November.  It looks at two different scenarios. One assumes much drier conditions than the other. Maria Rea with the National Marine Fisheries Service says under both scenarios winter-run Chinook salmon are at risk.

Senate Committee Moves Ahead With Fracking Moratorium Bill

Apr 8, 2014

A California senate committee has moved a bill forward that would place a moratorium on fracking. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the move comes less than a year after the passage of legislation that regulates the oil-extraction process.

Senate Bill 4 put several fracking regulations in place for the oil industry. SB4 also requires a study analyzing the health and safety risks of fracking. At the committee hearing, oil industry representatives called the regulations some of the strictest in the nation.

PPIC Survey: Support For California Water Bond Increases

Mar 27, 2014
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

According to a new survey, most Californians now support an $11 billion water bond measure on the November ballot. The support levels increase for water bond proposals at lesser amounts. From Sacramento, Max Pringle reports.

A year ago, only 44 percent of California adults and 42 percent of likely voters supported the water bond measure. Now the percentages are 60 percent for adults and half of likely voters. Mark Baldasarre is with the Public Policy Institute of California, which conducted the poll.

Political Fight Over Fracking Takes Center Stage In California

Mar 25, 2014
Center For Race, Poverty and the Environment - Twitter / https://twitter.com/CRPE_EJ

California is instituting what some are calling the toughest regulations in the nation for the controversial oil extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.  But some environmentalists say the regulations don’t go far enough to protect air and water quality.

Several local governments have enacted moratoriums; others are calling for an outright ban on fracking. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the politics are beginning to take center stage.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

 California is in the midst of one of the driest years on record and with over a third of the Central Valley’s jobs tied to agriculture and hundreds of thousands of acres going fallow leaders in the region are expecting ag jobs to be few and far between. FM89 reporter Ezra David Romero reports from one west side Valley town that is already feeling the pinch.

---

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The House Natural Resources Committee took up the issue of water for San Joaquin Valley farmers today before a packed gallery at Fresno City Hall. 

The Republican-led committee heard testimony from local growers and water managers on both short and long-term responses to California's drought and cuts to agricultural water deliveries south of the Delta. 

Joe Moore

The area around Los Banos isn't just a stopover for valley travelers along Highway 152 who are headed for the Central Coast. It's also a vital rest stop for millions of birds from across North America on the Pacific Flyway.

Ric Ortega: "If you come out here, you really don't see it all off of any of the major highways. But here we have something that definitely at least from an ecological perspective is equivalent to Yosemite Valley."

Report: California's Water System Needs Better Funding

Mar 12, 2014
CA Dept of Water Resources

A new report says California would need an additional two to three billion dollars every year to fill gaps where funding is needed for managing the state’s water. From Sacramento, Amy Quinton has more on the latest Public Policy Institute of California report.

New Report: California Groundwater Crisis Looming

Mar 11, 2014
California Department of Water Resources

Groundwater supplies are at an all-time low in both the Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, management of that dwindling supply was the focus of debate at the state Capitol.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office told lawmakers that without comprehensive statewide regulation of groundwater, management of the state’s water supply will be increasingly difficult. The LAO suggests the state require local water districts to phase in groundwater permitting and keep track of how much water is extracted from all groundwater wells.

California's water wars are nothing new. But Firebaugh-based filmaker Juan Carlos Oseguera says the current struggle over water cutbacks to westside growers is truly a "fight." His new feature-length documentary film, titled "A Fight For Water" seeks to tell the story of the communities in the San Joaquin Valley who were hit hard by water cutbacks in 2009 due to environmental restrictions on delta pumping. 

Bees Feel The Effects of California Drought

Mar 10, 2014
Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

The California drought has left honey bees without their normal supply of wildflowers to feed on. Beekeepers have supplemented the bees’ diet, but supplementation lacks the nutrition needed to keep hives healthy. Millions of colonies of bees are now pollinating almond orchards, giving the bees some relief. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, it’s likely to be only temporary.

Google Maps

California’s drought has communities up and down the valley looking conserve water. The City of Orange Cove has already banned outdoor watering this year, and later tonight the Lemoore City Council will hold a meeting to discuss ways the city can get residents to reduce their water use by as much as 25 percent.

Caltrans

Nearly fifty years after the Fulton Mall opened to national acclaim,  Fresno City Council voted late Thursday night to approve a plan to replace the historic pedestrian zone with a two-way street. The 5-2 vote was the latest step in an effort that backers hope will revitalize downtown Fresno and the city's historic main street. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This is the second piece in Valley Public Radio's occasional series, called Voices of the Drought. This week FM89 reporter Ezra David Romero visits with Fresno nurseryman Jon Reelhorn.

Jon Reelhorn wasn’t always a nurseryman. Back when he was a student at Fresno State he spent more time in the dugout than in the greenhouse.

“I’m a city boy from Stockton that came to Fresno State on a baseball scholarship and it’s an ag school so you had to figure out what you were going to do,” Reelhorn says.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

President Obama visited the valley today in a whirlwind tour, delivering a speech this afternoon at the Los Banos farm of Joe Del Bosque to announce his proposal for emergency drought relief. He says that while the lack of rain and snow is a concern to the Central Valley, it’s also a national issue:

Obama: “California is our biggest economy, California is our biggest agricultural producer, so what happens here matters to every working American, right down to the cost of food that you put on your table.”

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

During his visit Friday to the Central Valley, President Obama discussed the   drought with community leaders in Firebaugh. FM 89’s Rebecca Plevin asked residents there what they would tell the President about the region, if they had the opportunity.

--

If President Obama had time to stop by the Farmer’s Daughter restaurant in Firebaugh today, he would hear a strong message from owner LaVonne Allen.

“We need more water storage, there’s no ands, ifs, or buts about it,” she says.

Pages