Ag Today May 14, 2021

California and the West are in for another tough fire year, federal officials forecast [Los Angeles Times]

… Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told reporters Thursday that they had been briefed by government wildfire experts at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, to expect another extremely active fire season complicated, for the second year, by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. … The Biden administration is seeking to increase spending on fighting wildfires by about 4%. Separately, the Forest Service has asked Congress to approve a $476-million increase for forest management projects to reduce the risk of out-of-control fires.


Flights over North Bay provide graphic evidence of needed wildfire protection [Napa Valley Register]

… EcoFlight took its winged message to the North Bay with a series of aerial tours aboard a Cessna 210 propeller plane that illustrated some of the traces left behind by the infernos of the last half-decade, but also the practices that could better shield Californians in years to come. … The 45-minute excursion also gave a North Bay fire ecologist a chance to point to the importance of prescribed, preemptive burning to reduce the plant matter that otherwise would remain tinder-in-waiting, more combustible than ever as California endures bouts of drought and fire seasons stretching longer and earlier in the summer than ever.


No water: Farmers reel after announcement they’ll get zero allocation from Klamath Project [Siskiyou Daily News]

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday that more than 1,000 farmers in the Klamath Basin will not receive any reserved water from Upper Klamath Lake — a devastating prospect for farmers who have already planted fields, hired crews and made plans for the growing season ahead. “Growers and irrigation districts have spent the entire spring re-engineering and building systems to deliver meager surface and well water to their fields,” said the Shut Down & Fed Up organization — which advocates to sustain the future of agriculture in the Klamath Basin — in a Facebook post on Wednesday. “With a zero allocation, all of this work is for naught.”


MID might stop funding Tuolumne River Trust program for kids. Why things went awry [Modesto Bee]

The Tuolumne River Trust might lose funding from the Modesto Irrigation District for a program that teaches children about water. MID board member Stu Gilman suggested the move Tuesday in response to the Trust urging, in a Modesto Bee guest opinion last month, that district farmers reduce their water use. … The April 21 piece was written by Caitlin Perkey, a policy intern with the Trust. She argued that MID water is too cheap to encourage farmers to conserve. … All five MID board members responded in a piece published May 3 in The Bee.


Gas increases impacting one of the Valley’s most important — agriculture [KSEE TV, Fresno]

“You know this kind of feels like the death by a thousand cuts here for the local agriculture community,” said Ryan Jacobsen, the CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau. Ups and downs for more than a year now — the pandemic, wildfires and now fuel costs. … From the fuel-powered tractors to the transportation to get the food distributed to warehouses into the groceries, owner of Nilmeier Farms, Keith Nilmeier says not only is it affecting the consumer, it’s even tougher on the farmer. “It’s a double whammy what it costs us to actually produce it, but then what it costs to get it processed and to you and those extra fuel costs with that and it usually ends up coming out of the farmer’s pocket.”


Scientists urge restoration of federal gray wolf protections [Associated Press]

A group of scientists urged the Biden administration Thursday to restore legal protections for gray wolves, saying their removal earlier this year was premature and that states are allowing too many of the animals to be killed. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dropped wolves in most of the lower 48 states from the endangered species list in January. The decision was among more than 100 Trump administration actions related to the environment that President Joe Biden ordered reviewed after taking office.


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