Ag Today February 27, 2019

Wildlife and off-roaders gain room to roam in California’s new desert protection act [Los Angeles Times]

In the latest round of a 25-year battle to save the California desert, House lawmakers approved a sweeping conservation bill Tuesday that designates more terrain for wildlife and off-roaders alike and sets the stage for a final signature by President Trump. The California Desert Protection and Recreation Act, which does not come with funding, completed efforts that Sen. Dianne Feinstein started in 1994 to resolve conflicts among conservationists, off-road vehicle riders, miners, cattle ranchers, hunters, military training grounds and renewable energy interests….If signed by the president, the law would add 35,292 acres to Death Valley National Park and 4,543 acres to Joshua Tree National Park.


High-Speed Rail and Kings County near legal settlement after decade-long battle [Visalia Times-Delta]

Farmer and Kings County Supervisor Doug Verboon has fought hard against the high-speed rail that cuts through farms across the Central Valley….Joining with other farmers, Kings County has been fighting the controversial rail project in court and in countless other ways for almost a decade….Verboon worries the unfinished project could become a blight to the community — homeless and abandoned cars parked under half-done overpasses. Verboon also wants a guarantee that property owners, still waiting to be paid, get compensated. He doesn’t want to see residents left without money or property.It would have been all be for nothing, he said.


Gov. Gavin Newsom uses the power of appointments to shape government in his image [Los Angeles Times]

Gov. Gavin Newsom highlighted a highly significant but less visible power of his office in his first State of the State speech earlier this month: selecting appointees who can reshape California government in his image and help deliver on his ambitious policy agenda….The Democratic governor also picked a new chairman, Joaquin Esquivel, a former assistant secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, for the Water Resources Control Board to bring “balance” to state water policy, which has been hamstrung by conflicts among farmers, cities and environmentalists. Over the next four years, Newsom will have the opportunity to appoint more than 3,000 people to 32 government entities.


Oroville Dam staying low to provide room for wet weather, possible use of reconstructed spillway [Chico Enterprise-Record]

Oroville Dam is currently the only reservoir in the state that’s below average elevation — but that’s on purpose, said the state’s Department of Water Resources….The reservoir is currently at 55 percent of total capacity, said DWR’s assistant director of public communications, Erin Mellon. That’s about 80 percent of average. With heavy rains forecast for the area, that level is expected to rise, she said….Both the main spillway and the emergency spillway are reconstructed and able to handle flows, the press release said.


U.S. farmers fear Trump’s assault on WTO hurts them [Bloomberg News]

Donald Trump’s attack on the World Trade Organization has U.S. farmers worried that the president’s ‘America first’ foreign policy approach will hamstring efforts to defend their interests. The U.S. is strangling the ability of the WTO, which oversees the rules for nearly $23 trillion in commerce every year, to resolve disputes among its 164 members. But when the WTO’s appellate body becomes incapacitated later this year, even the U.S. cases, of which there are at least two pending meant to protect American agriculture, would be derailed.