Ag Today December 26, 2018

Trump calls for more logging on federal lands to fight wildfires [Sacramento Bee]

…President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday that calls for expanding logging on millions of acres of federal forest lands as part of a plan to reduce wildfire risks….Trump’s order calls for easing regulatory burdens that would allow for the harvest of least 3.8 billion board feet of timber from lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and another 600 million board feet of timber on Bureau of Land Management property….Boggs said environmentalists will certainly sue if Trump tries to ramp up logging.


Private woodlands lost to California wildfire — and may not be replaced [San Francisco Chronicle]

Tens of thousands of acres of private woodlands in California are being gobbled up by wildfires as the state gets warmer, winters get shorter and fuel gets drier — and these dense stands of burned trees, crucial in the fight against global warming, are often lost forever….Many of these small property owners don’t have the money or resources to clear out and replace trees when wildfires sweep over the landscape….More than 228,000 acres of private timber have been cut down since 2009, by owners using emergency timber harvest permits issued by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. The permits exempt landowners who have been subjected to catastrophic events, like fires, from the California Environmental Quality Act’s rigorous timber harvest review process that commercial loggers face.


Tiny salamander in Northern California could spell big problem for plans to heighten the Shasta Dam [Los Angeles Times]

A trio of tiny salamander species could mean big trouble for federal officials spearheading a controversial $1.4-billion public works project to heighten the Shasta Dam in Northern California. Two environmental organizations — the Center for Biological Diversity and the Environmental Protection Information Center — filed a federal lawsuit last month asking a judge to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine whether the Shasta salamanders should be protected under the Endangered Species Act….The move was prompted, in part, by the federal government’s sudden momentum in efforts to raise the Shasta Dam nearly two stories, a project that environmentalists say would destroy the salamanders’ habitat and put them at risk of extinction.


U.S. farmers fear lucrative Japanese exports will wither [Wall Street Journal]

After seeing exports to China tumble, U.S. farmers and ranchers are now bracing for more losses in their next-biggest Asian market: Japan. On Dec. 30, Tokyo will begin cutting tariffs and easing quotas on products sold by some of American agriculture’s biggest competitors—including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Chile—as part of the new 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership….Japan, unlike China, isn’t moving to block U.S. goods by retaliating for Trump administration tariffs. Instead, it’s doing the opposite, accelerating an ambitious market-opening agenda with more than three dozen countries spanning the globe—excluding the U.S.—that have unified to demonstrate to a skeptical Washington the advantages of free trade, and the costs of shunning it.


California’s bullet train is pumping billions into the Valley economy. So why is it so unpopular? [Sacramento Bee]

…Phase One of the state’s high-speed rail line is being assembled, piece by painstaking piece, along a 119-mile stretch between Madera and northern Kern County….Yet for all the dollars and dreams chugging into the Valley, the high-speed rail project is notoriously unpopular around here….In rural areas, where orchards are being cleared to make way for the rail line, opposition continues to simmer. Farmers are finding their farms getting carved up, their irrigation lines disrupted….The state has the power under eminent domain laws to take property for a public works project, but the process has played out more slowly than state officials expected and has left considerable rancor.


They tried to save two sick chickens. Now courts say they owe $331,991 in restitution [Modesto Bee]

A judge ordered two animal rights activists who trespassed at a Farmington egg farm in 2016 to pay $331,991 to compensate owners who say they were forced to destroy 45,000 chickens for fear they were contaminated. Paul Picklesimer and Jason Oliver will appeal Wednesday’s ruling in San Joaquin Superior Court, according to a release from Direct Action Everywhere. The group, also known as DxE, has been making headlines for drawing attention to what members consider animal cruelty.