News about energy and the environment

Ezra David Romero

A new listing of America’s “Most Endangered Rivers” released Tuesday ranks a Central Valley waterway near the top of the list. 

The environmental group American Rivers says the San Joaquin River Basin is the nation’s second most endangered river.  It trails only the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin in Georgia, Alabama and Florida. The group’s John Cain says four years of drought has taken its toll on the San Joaquin.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Crews are currently hard at work cutting down many of the over 100 trees that line the Fulton Mall. They are being removed as part of the project to turn the mall back into a street. But some of the trees will find a new life.

Chainsaws reverberate down the concrete canyon of the Fulton Mall. Workers are cutting into the trunk of a 30 foot tall pine. They then push the smaller section of the tree to earth where it lands with a meaty thunk.

Courtesy of Bethany Weeks / Creative Commons

UPDATE: Since this story was produced the Pacific fisher population in the Southern Sierra Nevada has been listed as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act. The Pacific Fisher was not listed as threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Farmers in the western part of the San Joaquin valley will receive 5% of their water allocation from the Central Valley Project. That's the word from the federal Bureau of Reclamation.

If it’s an April fool’s joke, farmers, water managers and Fresno County leaders aren’t laughing.

After two years of zero percent allocation, the Bureau announced that this year, despite El Nino conditions, many growers on the valley’s west side, will only get five percent of their promised water.

Farmer Sal Parra says the announcement is a gut punch.

California Farmers Already Adapting To Climate Change

Mar 29, 2016
UC Regents

UC Davis agricultural economists say climate change is affecting what crops are planted in California. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

The study looked at 12 crops in Yolo County, using 105 years of local climate data and 60 years of county planting history.

UC Davis agricultural economist Dan Sumner says warmer winter temperatures would reduce "chill hours," potentially reducing yields for some crops, while extending the growing season for others.

And that could cause growers to change planting practices.

US Bureau of Reclamation

Just two years ago California voters approved a water bond that set aside billions to pay for new water storage. Now a new group backed by many of the valley’s most influential farmers says that’s not enough to build new dams and expand existing ones.

State Water Project Estimates Most Deliveries Since Drought's Start

Mar 17, 2016
CA Dept Water Resources

Cities and farmers who rely on the State Water Project will receive the most water they’ve received since 2012. The California Department of Water Resources announced today that it plans to meet 45 percent of requests for deliveries.

It’s a major increase from December, when the state planned to fulfill only 10 percent of requests. Paul Wenger with the California Farm Bureau says it is welcome news. But he and other farmers are hoping the federal Central Valley Project will be able to meet requests.

California Experiencing "Miracle March" With Rain And Snow

Mar 16, 2016
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The northern Sierra has seen nearly double the average precipitation since the beginning of March. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, one of the state’s top water managers says it’s definitely a “Miracle March.”

John Chacon / California Department of Water Resources

California reservoirs are filling up and the snow pack in the Sierra Nevada is larger than at any point in this four-year drought. Even still FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports all that precipitation may not mean more water for some growers. 

Firebaugh farmer Joe Del Bosque is worried that despite all the rain and snow the state’s received so far this year that he might get a zero percent water allocation for a third year in a row. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

California needs as much rain and snow as it can get. So far this year El Nino caused storms have watered the hills of the Sierra Nevada so much this winter that as a result they’re bursting with color earlier in the year than usual.

“If you actually go up and look at those grasses you’ll see that they’re already starting to flower,” says Sequoia National Forest Supervisor Kevin Elliott. “So it means that they’re coming at the end of their lifecycle.”

Elliott says even before spring rain ends grass and flowers could turn brown.