Madera County

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Drive north from Fresno along Highway 41 and you’ll see thousands of acres of rolling farmland. One day, those ranches, vineyards and orchards will become thousands of new homes. It’s all part of an ambitious plan by developers and Madera County leaders to grow a major new city in the area. But building a city the size of Modesto takes a lot of materials, including things like gravel and concrete and asphalt. That’s why a site near Highways 41 and 145 is being considered for a controversial...

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Throughout the Central Valley, communities are grappling with how to keep their towns safe with enough cops and firefighters on the beat. Many have found that traditional revenue sources simply aren’t enough, and are turning to special taxes. But how they are doing so diverges down several different paths. Community reaction to tax increases seems to plays a big role in how local political leaders decide to act. As children, most of us went to sleep hearing the story of Goldilocks and the...

Kerry Klein/KVPR

In the Sierra Nevada, it’s estimated that tens of millions of trees have died as a result of drought, many of which succumbed to infestations from bark beetles. As a result, we’ve been told our risk of wildfire is far higher than normal, but FM89’s Kerry Klein says the science doesn’t necessarily agree. Gaze across a hillside at 5,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada, and that landscape, usually a wash of green pines, firs and cedars, is probably smudged with reds and browns. “You're looking at,...

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Shipping containers have been used for everything from community gardens to pools and even homes. In rural Madera County one farmer is using these containers to help him save water on his sheep farm. He says a shipping container could actually be a solution to drought. At Golden Valley Farm , about 10 miles northwest of Madera, Mario Daccarett’s employees are milking 500 sheep in rounds of 12. As they hook up long clear suction cups to each animal’s set of teats, milk drains down tubes into a...

US Forest Service

In the last 24 hours the Willow Fire has grown by around 1,000 acres, fueled by dense brush, hot conditions and wind. As of Friday morning the fire has consumed around 4,300 acres and is 30 percent contained. The blaze began Saturday near Bass Lake and is now 30 percent contained. Officials say the southern flank of the fire is now burning in the footprint of the 2001 North Fork fire, an area filled with dense brush, tree snags and dead woody material. On the north crews are making progress...

U.S. National Forest Service

The Willow Fire near Bass Lake in Madera County has grown to 1700 acres and is just 5% contained as of Tuesday afternoon. The fire has not brought activity at the lake to a stop, but it does have businesses and vacationers concerned. Gordon Barker and his wife drove from Fresno to see the fire. He pointed out the dead trees on the hillside killed by prolonged drought and beetle infestation turning the area into a tinder box. “It’s a bad time for these mountains. And they will go up like the...

Update: Friday June 19, 6:00 PM
The Corrine Fire has now grown to 1,000 acres is just 5 percent contained. Three outbuildings have been destroyed. Evacuations are in order for residents south of Corrin Road to Kerckoff Lake, and an advisory evacuation for residents of the community of Cascadel. Road 222 from Road 200 to Kerckhoff. ---- UPDATE: Friday June 19, 2:24 PM
Evacuation orders are now in place for residents south of Corrine Road to Kerckoff Lake. The evacuation center has...

U.S. Forest Service

A wildfire known as ‘The Sky Fire’ burning outside Oakhurst in Madera County has grown to over 500 acres. The U.S. Forest Service says as of Friday morning that the fire is only 15% contained and likely to grow. Early projections indicate that the fire could grow to as much 600 to 1000 thousand acres. The most recent information on the fire is available here. The brush fire began Thursday after a vehicle caught fire on Sky Ranch Road north of Oakhurst . Dirk Charley with the Forest Service...

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Reporters flocked to the Valley town of East Porterville last year where over 600 private wells went dry. This year many other towns are facing a similar plight, including the community of Fairmead. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero visits the community and finds an aging population with people whose basic needs are on the brink. I’m standing near Highway 99 in Madera County just before Highway 152 where thousands of people zoom by daily on the way to the coast. From the highway it’s...

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A study of traffic patterns between Fresno and Madera Counties is being expanded. The two counties are looking at the potential impacts of a new community just over the county line The Fresno County Board of Supervisors approved expanding the study to cover traffic on highway 99 and consider adding a new bridge in addition to examining traffic on highway 41. Rob Terry with the Fresno Council of Governments, which is performing the study, says it will give both counties a neutral starting...

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