Environment

News about energy and the environment

Rockfall Closes Highway 140 In Yosemite

Jan 7, 2016
National Park Service

A rockfall early this morning below the Arch Rock entrance to Yosemite National Park has closed Highway 140. Massive boulders are currently blocking the roadway, which is near the site of the 2014 Dog Rock Fire. The road is currently closed from the park entrance to the junction of Highways 120 and 140. 

It's unknown when the roadway will re-open. Services in El Portal are still open. The rockfall happened at about 5:45 A.M. Thursday morning, following several wet El Nino storms. 

Biomass Power Could Help California's Dying Forests

Jan 5, 2016
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Millions of dead trees in California create a huge risk of wildfire. It’s led Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency that will require utilities, power plants and state agencies to work together. Biomass power plants can create energy from those dead trees. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, biomass plants alone won’t solve the crisis.

Congress.gov

With negotiations on new compromise water legislation for California farmers currently deadlocked in Congress, is there a chance of a deal in 2016? Or will it be too late to capture El Nino floodwaters and store them for the future? Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) joined us on Valley Edition to offer his insights into the water negotiations, and why he's concerned the lack of a deal might leave many valley farmers with another year of zero allocations of water, even with a strong El Nino. 

Courtesy of Brett Lebin

California farmers are known for producing some of the finest fruits, vegetables and nuts in the world. But what if big agriculture here also included marijuana? If the legalization of recreational pot makes it onto the November  2016 ballot and passes, local growers might have a new crop to harvest.  FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports that some Central Valley farmers are already eyeing just that possibility. 

A few years ago Los Banos Farmer Cannon Michael discovered a one-acre illegal marijuana grow on his land.

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode

At one time there were over 10,000 grizzly bears in California, but people’s fear of the enormous animal drove the bears to extinction. The last California grizzly bear was shot in Tulare County in 1924. One group would like to see the bears thrive again. But as Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports not everyone thinks the idea is a good one..

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Kern County Board of Supervisors has approved new rules that supporters say will streamline oil and gas production.

The unanimous vote by the board Monday endorses a new environmental report that will make most surface production activities go through a process similar to the one to get a building permit.

The state will still regulate subsurface operations.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Tulare County is ground zero for drought. More than 2,000 household wells have gone dry leaving families without water. The county has provided tanks and water to many homeowners, but as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports, officials says their hands are tied when it comes to providing the service to renters.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The bark beetle has killed so many trees in the Sierra Nevada that officials are worried that people visiting places like the Sierra National Forest are in danger just by being there. Last week Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency when it comes to the dead trees and is asking for federal resources to remove them safely. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports from the Bass Lake area on what the Forest Service is doing to protect visitors.

NASA Study: California Drought Doubles Idle Farmland Acres

Oct 29, 2015
NASA

Farmers in California's Central Valley have left more than one million acres of agricultural land idle all year long. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, that’s more than double the amount before the drought.

David Prasad/Creative Commons / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

The bark beetle has killed so many pine trees in the Sierra Nevada that officials are afraid dying trees could hurt hikers. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports.

As of Tuesday the popular Trail of the 100 Giants in the Sequoia National Forest east of Porterville is now off-limits to visitors.  In September, hikers and crews noticed a large amount of dying pine trees in the area and later the Forest Service deemed it unsafe.  Forest Service spokeswoman Denise Alonzo says no giant sequoias are threatened.

Don't Count On El Niño For Sierra Snowpack

Oct 19, 2015
Ed Joyce / Capital Public Radio

Despite predictions for a strong El Niño to bring above-average rain to most of California, forecasters say it won't likely help where it's most needed. Capital Public Radio's Ed Joyce reports.

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center seasonal outlook does not forecast where or when snowstorms may arrive, nor does it project seasonal snowfall totals. Snow forecasts are determined by the strength and track of winter storms, which are not predictable more than a week in advance. 

MADERA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

Fires have burned through so much of the Sierra Nevada over the last four years that the U.S. Forest Service now has to figure out what to do with all the leftover debris. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports on one plan underway in Madera County.

The Courtney Fire burned 320 acres and destroyed 30 homes near the mountain community of Bass Lake last year. Now the U.S. Forest Service is ready to replant 80 of those acres. But first officials like Mike Nolan with the Sierra National Forest have to figure out what to do with all the charred logs that can’t be made into lumber.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Weather in the Sierra Nevada can change on a whim. The sun will be out in full array and then all of a sudden a thunderstorm will let loose. With such parched and fire scorched land around many mountain communities in California that could mean a greater chance of flash floods this fall and winter. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports on how one scientist is working to prevent mountain flooding in the region.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Just a few decades ago Fresno used to be the center of the American Fig Industry, with orchards stretching for thousands of acres. Now most of the trees planted by J.C. Forkner almost 100 years ago are gone and are replaced by homes and shopping centers.

US Forest Service Prevents Its Own Scientists From Talking About Study

Sep 17, 2015
Courtesy of US Forest Service / InciWeb

The US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station is preventing one of its scientists from talking about a study he authored in the journal “Science.” As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the agency even unsuccessfully requested that Science editors hold the article or remove his name from the study.

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