Environment

Wildfire
7:40 am
Tue August 5, 2014

The Rim Fire, Revisited: A Timeline

It's been nearly one year since the Rim Fire destroyed a vast swath of the Central Sierra, including a portion of Yosemite National Park. Within days of the fire, authorities told the public they knew the cause of the fire, and who did it. But after months of waiting,  no charges have been filed, no suspects have been named, and residents are demanding answers.  In this Rim Fire timeline we look back at the fire that became the largest ever recorded in the Sierra Nevada. 

Wildfire
7:37 pm
Sat August 2, 2014

Illegal Campfire To Blame For French Fire, Now Over 13,000 Acres

Authorities say this illegal campfire near the San Joaquin River is the cause of the French Fire.
Credit US Forest Service

UPDATE: Monday August 4, 2014:

The French Fire has now burned over 13,000 acres and is 30 percent contained. 134 structures are currently threatened by the fire.Officials released the following statement about firefighting progress Monday morning:

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Environment
6:30 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

In California, 'Drought Shaming' Sparks Resentment, Snark

file photo
Credit Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

Despite constant warnings about California's drought, people across the state are actually using more water this year than last. Angst over water is nothing new, but the pressure to conserve is pitting neighbor against neighbor in something the New York Times has called “drought shaming.” 

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Wildfires
7:28 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

UPDATE: Madera County's 'French Fire' Grows To Over 8,000 Acres

The French Fire as seen on Monday July 28, 2014.
Credit US Forest Service

UPDATE: 6:41 PM 8/1/14
The French Fire has continued to grow and now is over 8,000 acres, and just 15 percent contained. On Friday afternoon authorities issued an expanded evacuation order for residents in the community of Arnold Meadow.

Twelve campground have been closed due to the fire, which continues to send smoke into mountain communities and the valley. 

From InciWeb:

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Environment
4:48 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

UPDATE: El Portal Fire Near Yosemite Now Over 3,900 Acres; 34 Percent Contained

El Portal fire is burning south of the area scorched by last year's Rim Fire.
Credit Yosemite National Park

Update: 11 a.m. 7/31/14 - The El Portal fire has grown to 3,900 acres and is still 34 percent contained. According to authorities the evacuation order for Foresta will be lifted at 3:00 p.m. on Friday.   The Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120) leading into Yosemite Valley has now reopened. 

Update: 11 a.m. 7/30/14 - El Portal fire has grown to over 3,500 acres and is 34 percent contained. From fire authorities: 

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Environment
12:54 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

New Poll: Support For Global Warming Laws Drop If Energy Prices Rise

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A new Public Policy Institute of California poll finds a strong majority of Californians support the state’s laws to combat global warming. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, that support drops amid concerns about rising gas and electricity prices.

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Drought
11:02 am
Thu July 24, 2014

NASA Photos Document Drought's Toll On California Landscape

June 2014: Fallowed farms in the San Joaquin Valley can be seen in this image from NASA's MODIS instrument, taken June 24, 2014
NASA Earth Observatory

If you drive through Central California, it might be easy to forget the state is in the midst of a drought of historic proportions. Almond orchards and vineyards are green and full with crops awaiting harvest, and in cities green lawns still outnumber brown ones. 

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Environment
6:32 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

State and Federal Agencies Announce Salmon Restoration Plans

Federal and state agencies have announced their plans for restoring endangered salmon and steelhead populations in California’s Central Valley. (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Federal and state agencies Tuesday announced their plans for restoring endangered salmon and steelhead populations in California’s Central Valley.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plan will include re-introducing winter-run Chinook at cold water pools in Northern California and monitoring the water temperature to make sure it’s safe.  

Chuck Bonham with the  California Department of Fish and Wildlife says the ecosystem restoration plans could take 50 years or more to achieve the desired result.

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Drought
1:10 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Enforcement of Watering Rules Varies Around State

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California is enacting tough water restrictions after voluntary conservation efforts failed to work. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, the restrictions won’t be uniformly enforced.

Some communities already have strict local penalties in place. Others are just beginning to implement water shortage plans. In some cities a police officer may fine you for wasting water, in others water department employees might cite you.

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Drought
2:57 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

In Farmersville, Vilsack Announces Aid For Residents With Failed Wells

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $9.7 million in emergency water funding for 25 communities in California on Friday at an event in Farmersville.

California homeowners who have seen their wells fail during the drought are getting some assistance from the federal government. FM89's Joe Moore reports on today's  announcement from U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

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The well at Carlen Overby's rural Tulare County home went dry on July 4th, when she was taking a shower.

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Water
7:41 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

New Survey Says Californians Overwhelmingly Support Statewide Groundwater Plan

Credit California Department of Water Resources

An overwhelming majority of likely California voters say they favor a statewide groundwater management plan over the status quo. The results are part of a new survey released today. Capital Public Radio’s Max Pringle reports. 

The survey was commissioned by the non-profit California Water Foundation. It finds the prolonged drought has focused public opinion on the need to regulate groundwater. Pollster David Metz says few Californians think the state is doing an adequate job of managing.the resource.

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Water
7:01 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Fines Now Possible for California Water Wasters

file photo
Credit Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

A state agency took a major step to encourage water conservation Tuesday. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, it voted to allow large fines for wasting water.

The State Water Resources Control Board has adopted emergency regulations that allow local water agencies to levy fines up to $500 a day for people who waste water outdoors. Board Chair Felicia Marcus says collecting money isn’t the goal. Convincing urban water users to conserve is.

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Drought
6:37 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Groundwater Helping Farmers Endure California Drought, UC Davis Says

Pistachios in Kern County (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Research from UC Davis suggests California farmers are mostly able to maintain production during the drought because of their use of underground water– but environmentalists, scientists and farmers agree the practice is not a long term solution. Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

California farming will take a financial hit because of the drought. But for the most part, the UC Davis drought study says groundwater will supply what’s lacking in surface water. Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute says pumping groundwater can’t continue to go unregulated.   

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Environment
6:34 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Report: Groundwater Management Plans Need Significant Improvement

file photo
Credit California Department of Water Resources

A new report finds local water agencies need to do a better job managing groundwater in California. Amy Quinton has the details from Sacramento.

The California Water Foundation looked at 120 groundwater management plans adopted by local water agencies. In a nutshell, the results aren’t good. Almost 30 percent were written in 2002 or earlier. Many lacked objectives and an implementation strategy.

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Drought
6:08 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Forecasters: El Nino Not Likely To Help Ease Drought

It's less likely an El Niño event will bring rain to parched California next fall or winter.
National Weather Service

It's less likely an El Niño event will bring rain to parched California next fall or winter. And, as Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento, the drought is expected to continue next year.

National Weather Service forecasters say the chance of El Niño is about 70 percent during the Northern Hemisphere this summer and is close to 80 percent during the fall and early winter.

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Environment
5:44 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Waterless Madera County Locale Hears The Faucet Run

Home Depot donated cases of water to the community.
Credit Johannes Hoevertsz / Madera County

For the last three days a water crisis in a small community outside Madera left its residents without potable water. FM89’s Ezra David Romero has more on how Madera County is bringing water to this parched community.

Thursday was the first day that the 2,300 residents in the community of Parkwood, just south of Madera, have had pure enough water to drink come out of their faucets. The reason? The well that supports the community failed.

Johannes Hoevertsz the county public works director helped distribute bottled water.

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Environment
4:09 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Environmentalists Call For Halt To Oil Shipments By Rail

Environmental activists rallied Wednesday in Sacramento against plans by oil companies to increase crude oil shipments through populated areas in California and other states by rail. They say increasing the trips would raise the threat to the public.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Environmental activists rallied Wednesday in Sacramento against plans by oil companies to increase crude oil shipments through populated areas in California and other states by rail. They say increasing the trips would raise the threat to public safety.

Assemblyman Roger Dickinson has authored a bill that he says will make transporting oil by rail safer. It would require oil and rail companies to better coordinate with first responders.

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Environment
4:39 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

In Clovis, Purple Pipes Give Recycled Water New Life

Purple signs explain recycled water irrigation at Pasa Tiempo Park
Credit Kerry Klein

This is Pasa Tiempo Park in Clovis.  It’s 5 acres of green grass tucked between suburban homes and an orange grove.  It’s a lot like any other neighborhood park:  benches, fruit trees, and lots of space for kids.

Aller: I love the playground features, we have like spider-web crawlers and we’ve got some of the rope climbing things.  My name is Eric Aller, and I’m the parks manager for the city of Clovis.

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Environment
4:38 pm
Sat July 5, 2014

California Bill Would Delay Cap And Trade Transportation Fuel Permits

A bill introduced into the California legislature Thursday by Fresno Democrat Henry T. Perea would delay part of the state’s greenhouse gas reduction program for three years. (file photo)
Credit The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

A California Assemblyman has introduced a bill that would delay part of the state’s greenhouse gas reduction program for at least three years. Under the bill, energy companies would be able to put off purchasing “transportation fuel pollution” permits. Capital Public Radio’s Max Pringle reports.

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Environment
10:13 am
Wed July 2, 2014

As Drought Worsens, Fresno Turns Attention To Wastewater

In the aeration basins, microorganisms break down organic material. This is part of the secondary treatment process.
Marnette Federis Capital Public Radio

Jim Quist farms 700 acres next to the one of the most secure water sources in Fresno County.

“It might be providence," Quist says, about what brought his grandfather to the property in 1933. 

A portion of Quist's irrigation water was once raw sewage. Quist’s farm is just across the road from the City of Fresno’s wastewater treatment plant. It’s been giving him water for 50 years.

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