Environment

News about energy and the environment

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.

Westlands Water District website

The Westlands Water District has reached an agreement with the federal government in a decades-long dispute over who is responsible for water runoff from westside growers’ fields. In the deal, Westlands will assume responsibility for managing the wastewater, which is often laced with toxic chemicals like selenium from the soil. Westlands will also agree to retire at least 100,000 acres of farmland. The water district estimates that a federally-run cleanup plan would have cost the government around $3.5 billion. It’s unclear how much the district will spend on the drainage solution.  

USFS

Light rain, cooler temperatures and higher humidity in the last 24 hours have helped firefighters in their effort to contain the Rough Fire. The blaze has now consumed 139,000 acres and is 40 percent contained, though officials expect the containment number to rise later today. 

While the rain has helped the fight, it wasn't been enough to extinguish the fire. It also has forced firefighters to change their tactics, by making it more difficult to intentionally set brush on fire in efforts to contain the main blaze by depriving it of fuel. 

William Shewbridge, Creative Commons / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

The Rough Fire burning in California’s Sierra Nevada has consumed over 110,000 acres of forest. The blaze is now threatening a treasured grove of ancient trees.

Firefighters in Kings Canyon National Park are clearing the area around the Grant Grove of Giant Sequoia trees as the Rough Fire burns miles away.  Fire official Michael Johnson says while Giant Sequoias typically can endure fire, the state’s drought has stressed the forest.

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