Ag Today November 18, 2019

Bay Area open space district proposes killing mountain lions to help cattle ranchers [Bay Area News Group]

In a move that is raising the ire of wildlife advocates, one of the Bay Area’s largest open space agencies is drawing up plans that could allow the killing of mountain lions and coyotes to protect cattle owned by ranchers who lease its lands….“If something isn’t done, the population of the lions is going to increase more and more. And we’re going to have more and more problems,” said B.J. Burns, president of the San Mateo County Farm Bureau….But wildlife advocates say the proposed policy, which would be the first of its kind among any local parks or open space district in the Bay Area, is misguided.


Wine moguls destroy land and pay small fines as cost of business, say activists [NPR]

After California wine industry mogul Hugh Reimers illegally destroyed at least 140 acres of forest, meadow and stream in part to make way for new vineyards sometime last winter, according to a report from state investigators, state officials ordered the former executive of Jackson Family Wines to repair and mitigate the damage where possible. Sonoma County officials also suggested a $131,060 fine. But for environmental activists watching the investigation, fines and restoration attempts aren’t going to cut it; they want Reimers — an experienced captain of industry whom they say knew better — to face a criminal prosecution, which could lead to a jail sentence….Ransome’s concerns have been echoed by other environmental and community activists in Northern California who decry a pattern of winemakers violating environmental laws, paying relatively meager fines for their actions, and eventually proceeding with their projects.


Illegal pot farms on public land create environmental hazard [Associated Press]

Two months after two men were arrested at an illicit marijuana farm on public land deep in the Northern California wilderness, authorities are assessing the environmental impact and cleanup costs at the site where trees were clear-cut, waterways were diverted, and the ground was littered with open containers of fertilizer and rodenticide….The case highlights some of the growing pains California has faced since kicking off broad legal sales in 2018….Experts say illegal sites like the one found in the Shasta Trinity National Forest, about 100 miles from the Oregon line, siphon valuable water, pollute legal downstream grows and funnel potentially tainted cannabis onto the streets.


‘Erroneous’ data triggers new biological opinion [Klamath Falls Herald and News]

Agriculture producers in the Klamath Project may start the 2020 primary irrigation season with a new biological opinion that informs and governs water management according to environmental requirements under the Endangered Species Act. That’s because a consultant hired to assist Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office and federal wildlife agencies provided “erroneous” data that informed the most recent 2018 biological opinions, according to a news release. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and federal wildlife agencies announced Friday they have started the process of the Endangered Species Act consultation for a new biological opinion for the Klamath Reclamation Project.


Opinion: Gov. Newsom needs to give more than lip service to at-risk California native tribes [Sacramento Bee]

…We need more than lip service to California’s tribal peoples. We need to stand up to corporations, including agribusiness, to protect our water and declining salmon populations. Gov. Newsom campaigned on fighting the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks. We need him to follow through. His veto of SB 1 was disappointing, but he has an opportunity to redeem himself now by litigating against this latest assault on California’s environment and by supporting tribes’ actions to protect water and regain land.


Local wine industry continues to thrive [San Diego Union-Tribune]

Anyone who has taken a weekend drive into San Diego’s backcountry — along state Route 78 between Ramona and Julian or state Route 79 from Santa Ysabel to the Riverside County border — knows that the local winery industry is booming….An annual report released last week shows there are now 142 wineries in the county, either in operation or under construction….Hannah Gbeh, the executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, said the local wine industry is focusing quite a bit on agritourism….The economic report asked growers and winemakers what are the biggest problems they face. For the first time, labor topped the list.