Ag Today October 15, 2018

Plan to revive rivers pits SF against California [San Francisco Chronicle]

…City water officials worry that the far-reaching effort to revive hundreds of miles of waterways will mean giving up too much of their precious mountain supplies. Now, as the city water department works to defeat the state plan — pitting itself against environmental groups in an unlikely alliance with thirsty Central Valley farmers, as well as their backers in the Trump administration — some at City Hall have begun wondering if San Francisco is on the right side of California’s latest water war. In a recent sign of an emerging divide, Supervisor Aaron Peskin is threatening to introduce a resolution that challenges the position of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and declares the city officially in support of the state’s river restoration.


When in drought: States take on urgent negotiations to avoid Colorado River crisis [NPR]

…Water managers are attempting to boost reservoir levels with a suite of agreements under the umbrella of “drought contingency planning.” The premise is simple: Cut water use now, and use that saved water to bump up Powell and Mead to help to avoid bigger problems in the future, when supplies are likely to be even tighter. Water officials in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming are working on a plan that covers the river’s Upper Basin and focuses on boosting snowpack with weather modification, better managing existing reservoirs and creating a water bank in Lake Powell. The Lower Basin plan, being worked on by officials in Arizona, California and Nevada, is meant to create new incentives for water users like farmers and cities to conserve water in Lake Mead and to agree to earlier, deeper cuts to water use so the reservoir can avoid dropping to dead pool levels.


300th nutria killed in California as officials worry giant swamp rats are spreading into the delta [San Francisco Chronicle]

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife hit a milestone in its ongoing efforts to control the state’s nutria infestation on Friday morning when they successfully trapped Nutria number 300 at a pond in Merced County….So far, 12 nutria have been taken from San Joaquin County, but the Department of Fish and Wildlife is unsure if a breeding population has established a foothold in the delta….Nutria also pose a direct threat to the crops themselves. In September, a bean farm is San Joaquin County had a good portion of the field eaten by ravenous nutria.


Marijuana is emerging among California’s vineyards, offering promise and concern [Washington Post]

…Cannabis has been fully legal in California for less than a year, and no place is generating more interest in it than the stretch of coast from Monterey to here in Santa Barbara County, where farmers now hold more marijuana cultivation licenses than in any other county….The approximately 330 acres under cannabis cultivation here is a tiny fraction of the land devoted to vineyards, which once helped replace a declining beef and dairy cattle industry in the valley. But government officials and growers acknowledge that more cannabis will come, in part because the “Santa Barbara brand” built by its pinot noirs could help sell the locally grown product to new consumers. Just how much more is a concern to some government officials, all of whom see the need for new crops to boost the tax base but worry whether marijuana in the county’s northern hills and southern greenhouses will change the local culture.


Heat and drought could threaten world beer supply [New York Times]

…In a report in Nature Plants, researchers in China, Britain and the United States say that by the end of the century, drought and heat could hurt barley crops enough to cause intense pain to beer drinkers. Imagine a worst case of a 20 percent drop in supply in the United States, or a doubling of prices per bottle in Ireland….They decided to put together mathematical models of the impact of climate change on barley crops with models of international trade. Seventeen percent of barley is used for beer, he said, while the rest goes mostly to animal feed.


Editorial: Here’s a project that brings real effects on management of forests [Marysville Appeal-Democrat]

A lot of people want to solve the problems with our forests – the overabundance of fuels and fire danger, the dearth of harvesting that goes on, the bug problems, etc. But most times, the discussions end with the list of problems and some indignation. Here’s a project that means something that is real. The California Energy Commission last week awarded a $5 million grant to the Camptonville Community Partnership – the organization that has been planning and working towards a biomass energy generating facility for the last five years….The 3-megawatt plant will be fueled by wood and forest debris collected from forest harvesting ventures and is expected to cost as much as $20 million.