Environment

Yosemite
6:06 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

Yosemite Releases Draft Merced River Plan

Yosemite Falls (File Photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

It has taken more than a decade, but Yosemite National Park finally released today its draft plans to protect and restore the Merced River corridor for the next 20 years.

The plans, which include six different alternatives, are intended to preserve the river, and provide visitors with opportunities to enjoy the river, according to Kathleen Morse, chief of planning at Yosemite National Park.

“It’s a dual purpose plan: One to protect the resources, and two, to provide access to them,” Morse said.

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Environment
4:00 pm
Wed January 2, 2013

Sierra Snowpack Has Water Managers Happy, So Far

Snow covers the high Sierra in this file photo, taken north of Visalia.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California’s water managers say the state has a good supply of water so far thanks to a snowy December.

The first official measurement of the Sierra Nevada snowpack showed four-feet of accumulation. Manual and electronic readings showed the water content of the snow at 134 percent of average for this time of year.

Frank Gehrke is with the Department of Water Resources. He says last year the snowpack in the area was just over one-tenth of an inch.

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Environment
5:10 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Sierra Foothill Conservancy Adds New Wildlife Preserve Near Clovis

Cattle from the Sierra Lands Beef program graze on land that is part of the Sierra Foothill Conservancy's McKenzie Preserve, in March 2012. - file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A local conservation group working to preserve foothill ranch land has added another another major property to its list of protected areas.

The Sierra Foothill Conservancy announced today that it has purchased the historic Tallman Ranch east of Clovis. The 280 acre property will become the Ted K. Martin Wildlife Preserve. 

Martin donated $1 million to the conservancy to fund the purchase of the ranch from the Tallman Family and another $300,000 to support its management for the future.

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Environment
7:52 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

State Releases Draft of Proposed Fracking Regulations

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The State of California's Department of Conservation on Tuesday released a draft proposal for new regulations governing hydraulic fracturing in the oil and gas industry, a practice also known as fracking.

The proposal calls for new well testing and chemical disclosure procedures designed to safeguard the environment and public health, but critics say the rules don't go far enough.

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Environment
4:52 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Talk of Revamping Water Bond to Heat Up in 2013

The Friant-Kern Canal delivers water to growers and cities on the eastern side of the San Joaquin Valley. (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

There’s a push for a new look at the $11 billion water bond now scheduled for California’s November 2014 ballot.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, some lawmakers want to reduce the bond’s size, while others want to rewrite it entirely.

Democratic Senator Lois Wolk represents the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region – and she’s long felt the bond approved in 2009 was a bad piece of legislation.  Now that it’s been pushed back a second time, Wolk has introduced a bill that would start over:

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Water
9:55 am
Fri November 30, 2012

State Water Project Plans For 30 Percent Allocation Next Year

Lake Oroville in northern California - file photo

California water officials say farmers and others who rely on the State Water Project can count on at least 30 percent of the requested water amount in the coming year. 

The Department of Water Resources says the initial allocation is always conservative since it’s made before the rainy season. 90 percent of the state’s snow and rain comes between December and April.

This week’s storm is giving the State Water Project an early boost and the water supply is expected to increase as more storms roll in.

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Global Warming
1:08 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

California Launches 'Pay-to-Pollute' Carbon Market

An oil refinery in Bakersfield (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California is launching a big part of its fight against climate change on Wednesday. The state is holding its first auction in the "cap and trade" program where industrial businesses will have to buy allowances to emit greenhouse gases.   The goal is to reduce the state's emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. From Sacramento, Kathleen Masterson reports on how the complex market is designed to reduce pollution. 

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Environment
10:58 am
Mon October 29, 2012

Jesse Morrow Mountain Project Headed Back to Supervisors

Jesse Morrow Mountain east of Fresno
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Plans for a controversial hard rock mine on Jesse Morrow Mountain east of Sanger will once again go before the Fresno County Board of Supervisors next month. The supervisors will be asked to approve the project's environmental documents at a meeting scheduled for November 13.

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Environment
12:30 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Governor Brown Says Delta Tunnel System on Track

California Governor Jerry Brown says plans to build a 14 billion dollar pair of tunnels to move water from northern California to the south are on track.

In an interview with Capital Public Radio, Governor Brown estimates that it may take a year and a half before construction could begin on the massive tunnel system.

He unveiled plans in July for a system that would siphon water from the Sacramento River and carry it underground to cities and farmland in the south.

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Environment
11:31 am
Wed October 17, 2012

Coalition of Water Providers Agree on Delta Projects

Top, Consumnes River delta. Bottom, Sycamore Slough (south of Woodbridge Road). Both November 8, 2011. (photos by William G. Miller, Cole~Miller Photography)
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Historical Ecology Study San Francisco Estuary Institute-Aquatic Science Center / California Department of Fish and Game

A list of more than 40 short term projects to improve the Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta is now in the hands of California agencies. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, water providers and environmentalists are hopeful some projects will finally get off the ground.

When it comes to the state’s water, there is rarely agreement. But a coalition of Delta water managers, farmers, and environmentalists has agreed on smaller projects to protect the estuary.

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Environment
9:43 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Arvin Residents Take On Air Pollution With 'Bucket Brigade'

The small community of Arvin has some of the worst air in the nation.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The small Kern County community of Arvin has some of the worst air in the nation. Surrounded on two sides by mountains at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, the city's 16,000 residents breathe air polluted by cars, trucks and industrial operations from nearby, and from across the valley. But now some members of the community are taking matters into their own hands, with a "bucket brigade" that aims to clean up the air. But their efforts are not without controversy. 

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Environment
8:38 am
Mon October 15, 2012

Sacramento San Joaquin Delta Residents Oppose State's Canal Plan

Top, Consumnes River delta. Bottom, Sycamore Slough (south of Woodbridge Road). Both November 8, 2011. (photos by William G. Miller, Cole~Miller Photography)
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Historical Ecology Study San Francisco Estuary Institute-Aquatic Science Center / California Department of Fish and Game

The Sacramento San Joaquin delta supplies drinking water for more than half of California. Just inland from the San Francisco bay, this patchwork of levees, farmland and waterways is threatened by rising seawater.  But people who live there say the state's plan to take freshwater from north of the delta will only make things worse 

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Environment
5:29 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

New Poll Shows GMO Labeling Prop Losing Support

A new poll finds support for Proposition 37 on California’s November’s ballot dropping. Prop 37 would require labels on all foods containing genetically-modified ingredients.

The California Business Roundtable and Pepperdine University poll shows support has declined by 19 points in the last two weeks.

It’s dropped from 67-percent to 48 percent. Michael Squires with Pepperdine says one reason for the change might be that 43-percent of voters say they’ve seen advertising about the measure.

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Environment
7:07 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Legislators and Businesses Call for "Green Chemistry" Law Delay

Some legislators and industries are asking for a delay in implementing California’s law that regulates toxic chemicals in consumer goods.

The state’s “Green Chemistry” law requires businesses to identify and find alternatives to some chemicals that could be harmful.

More than a dozen Democratic lawmakers have joined the call for a thorough analysis of the economic impact of the regulations.

Ann Grimaldi represents the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. She says the regulations could generate unpredictable costs.

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Environment
3:45 pm
Mon October 8, 2012

Early Switch to Winter Blend Fuel Unlikely To Harm Air Quality

The California Air Resources Board says refineries can begin producing and selling winter-blend gasoline.

The blend is usually not sold until October 31st because it’s a more volatile compound and its quick evaporation can harm air quality during hot weather.

But Governor Jerry Brown requested the early switch because of the recent gas price spikes. 

The Board’s Dave Cleggern says with the cooler weather he doubts it will have any negative environmental effect.

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Environment
8:31 am
Thu October 4, 2012

Cal Fire: Wildfire Danger Still High

The Bear Fire burns in the Sierra National Forest in August, 2012
Credit Sierra National Forest

The hot weather is expected to end throughout most of California on Thursday, with cooler temperatures in the forecast. But with no significant rainfall in sight, state officials warn of continued fire danger.

So far this year, Cal Fire crews have responded to more than 5,300 wildfires. That’s nearly 20% more than average. And state officials say the threat of new fires isn’t over.

“Even though the calendar says ‘October’ fire danger level is high. We want people to be prepared.”

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Environment
5:35 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Governor Brown Signs Environmental Bills

Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a number of bills Tuesday that he says are designed to help the environment and improve state parks.

The Governor signed two bills that will keep state parks open and improve their management. One of them places a two-year moratorium on any park closure. It designates 30 million dollars to prevent parks from closing, to match private and local donations, and for park maintenance.

Another bill requires the state parks department to create a plan to generate revenues and calls for tighter accounting practices.

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Environment
5:09 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

New Study Examines How Delta Ecosystem Once Worked

Top, Consumnes River delta. Bottom, Sycamore Slough (south of Woodbridge Road). Both November 8, 2011. (photos by William G. Miller, Cole~Miller Photography)
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Historical Ecology Study San Francisco Estuary Institute-Aquatic Science Center / California Department of Fish and Game

A new study released this week by the San Francisco Estuary Institute and the California Department of Fish and Game aims to turn back the clock and learn how the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta used to work - over 150 years ago.

It's part of an effort to allow scientists to better understand how to restore the Delta, by examining how the massive freshwater estuary functioned, before the gold rush and agriculture transformed the region with levees, shipping channels and dredging. 

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Environment
9:35 am
Wed September 12, 2012

California Governor Jerry Brown Signs Timber Tax Bill

Credit Licensed using Creative Commons from Flickr user CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK / http://www.flickr.com/photos/macsurak/6195650749/

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that imposes a 1-percent tax on lumber products starting in January. The bill also protects the timber industry from excessive legal damages for wildfires.

The bill had strong backing from the California timber industry for several reasons. It eliminates regulatory fees companies currently pay when harvesting and shifts the costs to consumers through the tax. It also limits legal damages landowners pay for starting wildfires.

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Environment
7:03 am
Thu September 6, 2012

Dry Lightning Sparks Increased Fire Danger

The weather forecast for Northern and Central California over the next few days has state fire fighters on high alert.
 
CalFIRE’s Daniel Berlant says thunderstorms and strong winds could lead to dry lightning.
 
"When we get lightning-sparked fires, there can be dozens – even sometimes hundreds – of fires spread out through a large area.  That always is a challenge for us, because that means additional resources are needed.” 
 

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