Ag Today October 2, 2020

California can fix its wildfire crisis — if politics don’t get in the way [San Francisco Chronicle]

… California is burning more than ever, with a record 3.7 million acres blackened across the state so far and weeks more of potentially dangerous weather in store. The fiery crisis could quickly become a political one too, as state leaders scramble to contain a worsening problem with myriad solutions, none of them easy to enact. And it’s not just a climate issue: To most effectively reduce the mounting risk of catastrophic wildfires, the state will need to grapple with its overgrown forests and misguided development patterns too. … Politicians and policy experts broadly agree, though disagreement persists about the best next steps.


PG&E is aggressively cutting trees across California. This woodsy town is fighting back [Sacramento Bee]

Fresh out of bankruptcy court and under intense pressure to avoid sparking more wildfires, PG&E Corp. has been feverishly trimming and chopping down trees across its vast service territory. … But in a woodsy middle-class neighborhood in the Sierra foothills, the state’s largest utility and its chainsaws have been silenced — by a group of irate property owners and a Superior Court judge. … The fight in Nevada City comes as California is growing desperate for solutions during the worst wildfire season in the state’s modern history. State officials believe part of the answer lies in more aggressively trimming and removing trees from heavily forested areas.


Federal funding that was lifeline for Bay Area farms redirected to big corporations [San Francisco Chronicle]

… The United States Department of Agriculture launched the Farmers to Families Program during the pandemic to get free food to low-income families while supporting small farms scrambling for more business. But USDA recently stopped issuing funds to local community organizations in favor of multinational food distributors like Sysco. The change will impact Bay Area farmers, particularly farmers of color, and organizers say will also result in tens of thousands of families getting lower-quality produce, and less of it.


‘Madness and arrogance’ blamed for one lawsuit against desert groundwater agency [Bakersfield Californian]

Two lawsuits accusing the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority of ramming through a plan that ignores water rights and, according to one plaintiff, is intended to “destroy agriculture” were filed this week. At issue is a controversial $2,000-per-acre-foot fee approved by the authority last month that would be charged to certain groundwater users over a five-year period. That money is intended to raise $50 million to buy Central Valley water and, somehow, bring it over the Sierra Nevadas to replenish the overdrafted desert aquifer. … The suits were filed separately by Searles Valley Minerals and Mojave Pistachios.


Congress frees up $10 million for Project drought relief [Klamath Falls Herald and News]

The U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment of the 2000 Klamath Basin Water Supply Enhancement Act on Thursday, which will better distribute $10 million in funding every year to drought relief efforts in the Klamath Basin. The bill passed the Senate in June and is headed to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law. … The 2018 amendment allows the Secretary of the Interior to “plan, implement, and administer programs to align water supplies and demand for irrigation water users associated with the Klamath Project.” This year’s bill, sponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), specifies that those programs include “conservation and efficiency measures, land idling, and use of groundwater.”


Citrus disease infects 5 trees in Rancho Cucamonga for first time [Inland Valley Daily Bulletin]

The spread of an incurable fruit-tree disease caused by an aphid-like insect continues to march across San Bernardino County, with the discovery of five diseased trees in Rancho Cucamonga in September. The finding of the infected trees on two residential properties marks the first time in history that citrus greening disease, also called Huanglongbing or HLB, has been detected in Rancho Cucamonga, state agriculture authorities reported. … As a result of the Rancho Cucamonga finds, 79 square miles were added to an already sprawling Southern California citrus quarantine zone.


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