News about energy and the environment

Ezra David Romero

Yay! You made it to Outdoorsy. This is Valley Public Radio’s new podcast, in which we explore wild places in California and interview the people who enjoy them.

We – reporters Ezra David Romero and Kerry Klein – are excited to share some of our favorite places and outdoor activities. We both consider ourselves pretty “Outdoorsy,” though we're coming at this from two different backgrounds.

US Foerst Service

Due to such dry conditions here in California wildfires in recent memory have burned enormous portions of forest. Think the Rim Fire that destroyed 400 square miles and the Rough Fire that torched about half of that. These blazes require thousands of firefighters and new resources like air very large air tankers. And as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports these large plans can hold 10 times as much as the older planes.

When a wildfire sparks air tankers are the first responders.

They’re the planes that drop pink fire retardant from the sky to hopefully quarantine a blaze.

Heather Davis / Fresno Chaffee Zoo

When the temperature hits triple-digits, keeping ourselves and our pets cool may be the main priorities for us humans. But zoo animals enjoy a cool-down, too, and the Fresno Chaffee Zoo has some creative solutions for helping beat the heat.

Courtesy of New American Media

A new study out this week suggests that more people of color are interested in public lands than previously thought. FM89’s Ezra  David Romero reports.


Drive north from Fresno along Highway 41 and you’ll see thousands of acres of rolling farmland. One day, those ranches, vineyards and orchards will become thousands of new homes.

It’s all part of an ambitious plan by developers and Madera County leaders to grow a major new city in the area. But building a city the size of Modesto takes a lot of materials, including things like gravel and concrete and asphalt.

Flickr user WBUR, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Right now in California’s Sierra Nevada, an estimated 66 million trees have died, due to a deadly combination of drought and bark beetles, which take advantage of dry, thirsty trees. But could we prevent beetles from ever attacking trees in the first place? Researchers have been asking this question for decades, and a new tool fends off bark beetles using the very thing that makes them so deadly.

Courtesy of Alison Sheehey

Bakersfield is known for agriculture, country music and oil. But what if I told you people are flocking to Kern County to birdwatch? Well it’s the truth and as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports they’re looking for a bird nonnative to the region that calls the city’s tall palm trees home.

Earlier this summer I was doing some internet sleuthing about how to take better care of my pet parakeets. As I scrolled through search results a line jumped off the screen. There’s a wild population of parakeets living Bakersfield.

Community Water Center

When we talk about water in the San Joaquin Valley, it’s often to highlight water problems, like dry wells, contaminated drinking water or, more recently, toxic algae in lakes and reservoirs. But the news isn’t all bad: local advocate Susana De Anda recently received an award from the White House for her work bringing clean water to San Joaquin Valley communities.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Northern California’s only native turtle is in danger.

In an effort to keep the northern western pond turtle from dying off the Fresno Chaffee Zoo is involved in a repopulation program with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Save Animals From Extinction Program. The turtles aren't on display, but hidden behind the zoos exhibits where they're being studied.  

To learn more about these reptiles FM89 Reporter Ezra David Romero visited the zoo and chatted with reptile keeper Dustin Piontek. To listen to the interview click play above. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The Erskine Fire that broke out in the mountains near Kern County in June burned around 50,000 acres. More than 280 homes were reduced to rubble by the fire displacing thousands of people. Now those residents are trying to figure out whether rebuilding is worth it.

Shellie Bryant has worked in Kern County’s oil industry for more than 30 years. She saved and used some of her retirement so she could buy a plot of land and a trailer in the community of South Lake not far from the shores of Lake Isabella.