Goats Welcomed Young Students

‘I wish this was my school’: Young Students Get Hands-on at Elkus Ranch

By Pam Kan-Rice UCANR  Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach

Curious goats milled around the masked elementary school students who were raking out the livestock stalls. After a year of social distancing due to COVID-19 precautions, the goats were enthralled by the youngsters who visited UC Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Elkus Ranch Environmental Education Center in San Mateo County.

“The animals were missing kids, they’re used to getting more loving,” said Beth Loof, 4-H youth community educator at Elkus Ranch. “Goats are really social. They get distressed when they are alone.”

Tucked behind the rolling green hills of Half Moon Bay off state Route 1, Elkus Ranch is a working landscape that, in a normal year, hosts people from all over the San Francisco Bay Area for field trips, conferences, community service projects, internships and summer camps.

During the pandemic, UC ANR has limited visitors to “social bubbles” of children and adults for outdoor education at the 125-acre ranch, which has implemented a variety of COVID protocols for the safety of visitors. During Adventure Days, young people spend four hours caring for animals, tending gardens, making a nature-themed craft project and hiking around the property.

“We would love to bring children from urban areas of the Bay Area to Elkus Ranch,” said Frank McPherson, director of UC Cooperative Extension for Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and San Francisco counties. “So they can learn where food comes from, before it gets to the grocery store.”

On a sunny spring day, 11 students from Share Path Academy in San Mateo visited for Adventure Day, as their first field trip of the year.

“Coming here and having the hands-on learning, being able to hold objects, touch objects, interact with things, it’s all part of learning,” said Erin McCoy, a Share Path Academy teacher. “In science, you can talk about certain things in classes, but when you come out here and you actually apply it to what they’re doing and it’s tactile for them, at this age, it’s really important.”

The group – composed of McCoy, nine fifth-graders, a fourth-grader, a sixth-grader and a couple of parents – spent the day outdoors petting the donkeys, goats, chickens, rabbits and sheep and learning about the animals that live at Elkus Ranch.

“I think it’s been a great opportunity for our children to be outdoors and to enjoy nature, to reconnect with the environment – animals, plants, just the outdoors,” said parent Christina Cabrera. “It’s great for the children and the adults accompanying them.”

Inside the barn, Loof invited the students to sit on straw bales – not the hay bales, which are food for the livestock. She showed the students how wool that is sheared from sheep’s coats is spun into yarn. First, they carded the wool. “You’re going to card it like this. It’s like brushing your hair, but it has a little resistance so it can be a workout,” Loof said, cautioning the students wearing shorts to be careful not to brush their skin with the sharp, wire teeth of the tool. “Get all the fibers nice and flat, lined up, going one way. Fibers are what we call all the strands of wool.”

“This place is awesome.”

 

After twisting the wool by hand into yarn, the students fashioned the natural-colored fuzzy strands into bracelets.

“We love Elkus,” said McCoy, whose son has attended summer camp at the ranch. “This place is awesome.”

Taking a break for lunch, the group walked down the dirt path from the barn past the livestock pens to wash their hands, then sat at primary-colored picnic tables to eat next to a garden.

After lunch, the students exercised their creativity with buckets of clay to mold into animals or roll out and cut with cookie cutters.

In the chicken coop, Loof, who is one of four community educators who work at Elkus Ranch, shared animal science facts such as, “Eggs are viable for two weeks after the hen sits on them in the nest.” She also told funny stories such as how Dora, the white bantam, escaped the coop and ate all the chard in the garden.

“I wish this was my school,” said one student as he held an egg-laying chicken.

The visit ended with a garden tour and a game of hide and seek among the raised beds of onions, squash and other vegetables.

“Being outdoors is an important counterbalance to being on a computer,” said Cabrera, who is also a San Mateo High School wellness counselor. “It’s a great addition to what we’re doing. Just to be with animals.”

Elkus Ranch is still offering Adventure Days for children; the cost is $425 for 10 people. Small groups are also invited for 90-minute visits.

“If all goes well, we plan to offer a three-day mini-camp on Monday through Wednesday of Thanksgiving week,” said Leslie Jensen, Elkus Ranch coordinator.

For more information about Elkus Ranch activities, visit ucanr.edu/adventure or contact Jensen at LKJensen@ucanr.edu.

 

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources brings the power of UC to all 58 California counties. Through research and Cooperative Extension in agriculture, natural resources, nutrition, economic and youth development, our mission is to improve the lives of all Californians. Learn more at ucanr.edu and support our work at donate.ucanr.edu.

 

2021-08-25T20:41:30-07:00August 25th, 2021|

Farm Employees Must Be Protected from Wildfire Smoke

 

Cal/OSHA Reminds Employers of Wildfire Smoke Standards to Protect Workers

By Jason Resnick, Western Growers Sr. Vice President and General Council

As wildfires continue to rampage throughout California, Cal/OSHA is reminding employers that the state’s protection from wildfire smoke standard requires them to take steps to protect their workers from the resulting unhealthy air.

Wildfire

Hazardous smoke from wildfire

The greatest hazard from workers comes from breathing fine particles in the air – called PM2.5 – which can worsen pre-existing heart and lung conditions and cause wheezing and difficulty breathing. PM2.5 is tracked via the local air quality index (AQI), and it can be monitored via websites like the U.S. EPA’s AirNow or local air quality management district websites.

If the AQI for PM2.5 is 151 or greater, employers must take the following steps to protect employees:

  • Communication – Inform employees of the AQI for PM2.5 and the protective measures available to them.
  • Training and Instruction – Provide effective training and instruction to all employees on the information contained in section 5141.1 Appendix B.
  • Modifications – Implement modifications to the workplace, if feasible, to reduce exposure. Examples include providing enclosed structures or vehicles for employees to work in, where the air is filtered.
  • Changes – Implement practicable changes to work procedures or schedules. Examples include changing the location where employees work or reducing the amount of time they work outdoors or exposed to unfiltered outdoor air.
  • Respiratory protection – Provide proper respiratory protection equipment, such as disposable respirators, for voluntary use.
    • To filter out fine particles, respirators must be labeled N-95, N-99, N-100, R-95, P-95, P-99, or P-100, and must be labeled as approved by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

To assist employers with identifying available supplies of respirators, Cal/OSHA is maintaining a list of vendors who have confirmed they have at least 100,000 NIOSH-certified disposable N95 respirators in stock and available for purchase and delivery.

If the AQI for PM2.5 exceeds 500 due to wildfire smoke, respirator use is required. Employers must ensure employees use respirators and implement a respiratory protection program as required in California’s respiratory standard. For information or help on developing a respiratory protection program, see Cal/OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Fact Sheet.

Click here to read the California Department of Industrial Relations’ full press release.

2021-08-23T20:05:55-07:00August 23rd, 2021|

WAPA Joins A Call for Action On Water

Western Ag Processor’s Assocation’s Roger Isom Speaks Up

 

Association President/CEO Roger A. Isom spoke today at a press conference at the San Luis Reservoir calling on the state to fix our water infrastructure.

Isom joined Senator Melissa Hurtado and a broad group of water districts including Federico Barajas, of the San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority; Tom Birmingham, from the Westlands Water District; Jason Phillips of the Friant Water Authority, and Royce Fast from the Kern County Water Agency.

The event was held by Senator Hurtado and held at the San Luis Reservoir to commemorate the speech given by President John F. Kennedy at the same site in 1962 to begin construction of the San Luis Reservoir.

Isom quoted Kennedy stating “this is our task in the simplest of forms.  It is a task to renew and strengthen the American Land and its resources and build up a legacy for those who follow”.  The event also recognized the $100 million received to help infrastructure in the state to help repair canals.  Isom called it a down payment to help the state fix our infrastructure for our farms, cities and every citizen in this state.

2021-08-19T17:34:06-07:00August 19th, 2021|

2021 CALIFORNIA FIG HARVEST UNDERWAY

Demand for California Figs Continues to Rise

According to the California Fresh Fig Growers Association, California’s Fresh Fig season started in May and will continue through November. This year’s first crop was plump and plentiful though rainfall was sparce. Subsequent crops are expected to be just as beautiful and delicious. Sustainable farming practices ensure trees are healthy and producing delicious fruit even through drought years.

“California’s dedicated fig farmers have been good stewards of the land for generations which means we can all look forward to terrific fruit again this year,” says Karla Stockli, Chief Executive Office of the California Fresh Fig Growers Association. “The health of our California Fig trees is a year-round priority, which is why we can confidently deliver fresh figs seasonally and dried figs year round.”

In California, there are five primary varieties of fresh figs:

 

  • Mission. Purple and black skin with deep earthy flavor.
  • Kadota. Creamy amber skin with a light flavor.
  • Brown Turkey. Light purple to black skin with robust flavor.
  • Sierra. Light-colored skin with a fresh, sweet flavor.
  • Tiger. Light yellow color with unique dark green stripes and a bright red-purple interior fruit with fruity, raspberry, citrus flavor.

 

The California Fig industry has seen a rise in the popularity of both fresh and dried figs. Ever since Firmenich, a global flavor and fragrance company, designated 2018 “The Year of the Fig” crediting a growth in the number of products containing figs and fig flavors worldwide, growth in figs and fig flavored products have continued to rise due to its unique flavor and nutrition benefits.

 

Stockli adds, “Figs are an ancient fruit with a modern appeal. New generations are discovering the wonderful flavor of figs while reaping significant nutrition benefits. Seeking out California Figs ensures they’re always enjoying the highest quality in the world.”

 

Worldwide demand for California Figs can also be credited to the California Fig industry’s marketing efforts. The industry, which produces an average of 10 million pounds of fresh figs and 8,000 tons of dried figs annually, is small compared to many California agriculture industries. The California Fig industry relies heavily on government grants to maintain a robust marketing plan domestically and globally.

 

“We are grateful for Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) and Market Access Program (MAP) funds and continue to see huge value,” says Kevin Herman, third-generation fig grower and president of the California Fresh Fig Growers Association. “We are planting more trees and testing new varieties because of our marketing efforts and increase in demand. It’s an exciting time for the industry!”

 

In recent years, just to name a few efforts, the California Fig industry has produced its own cookbook, partnered with celebrity chef Robert Del Grande and celebrity fitness trainer Valerie Waters, developed new branding and digital assets, relaunched Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube channels, funded new research, and enlisted blogger and dietitian influencers to develop recipes, post content, and conduct media on the industry’s behalf.

 

To announce this year’s fresh fig season domestically, the industry commissioned a consumer survey through OnePoll to demonstrate the popularity of fresh figs in social media. Results will be released with a custom infographic in early August. California Fresh Figs will also be featured in a digital advertising campaign targeting key markets and in a nationally distributed lifestyle TV segment airing August 5 on “Daytime” and August 14 on “The Lifestyle List.” The industry will round out its fresh marketing efforts in 2021 with deliveries to media and nutrition influencers across the country.

 

Canada is the California Fig industry’s #1 export market, with nearly 50% of the fresh crop crossing over the border annually. Recent marketing efforts have primarily focused on digital communications with an emphasis on social media advertising. 2021 marketing efforts include an advertorial in LCBO’s popular digital and print publication Food & Drink magazine, recipe development, new photography and graphics, influencer outreach, social media advertising, and a partnership with The Feedfeed, a food and drink discovery platform, to host an Instagram Live featuring a demonstration on how to create a California Figs Charcuterie.

 

For more information, visit californiafigs.com.

2021-08-12T20:30:03-07:00August 12th, 2021|

Plumas Livestock Show Goes Forward Despite Dixie Fire

Plumas-Sierra Youth Look for Bids on Livestock August 15

By Pam Kan-Rice UCANR  Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach

Due to the Dixie Fire, the traditional Plumas County Fair was canceled; however, volunteers are working hard to make the Plumas-Sierra Junior Livestock Show happen. 4-H and FFA youth will show their prize-winning livestock this weekend at the Sierraville Roping Grounds. The showing of animals is scheduled to take place on Aug. 13 and 14 with the Junior Livestock Auction on Sunday, Aug. 15.

“We really hope junior livestock supporters in the region and beyond will raise their hands often this year to support the youth livestock producers of Plumas and Sierra counties,” said Megan Neer, Plumas-Sierra Junior Livestock Auction chairman.

“The kids have overcome the challenges of COVID and now face another year of canceled county fair due to the Dixie Fire,” Neer said. “Many of our youth have been directly impacted by the fire evacuations and some even have lost homes to the catastrophic fire. We are really looking to the community and beyond to support our youth during this difficult time.”

Profiles of participating youth can be viewed on the Plumas-Sierra Junior Livestock Auction Facebook page by clicking on “Photos.” Interested buyers can participate in the livestock sale on Sunday, Aug. 15, and help reward the young people for their hard work in raising steers, lambs, swine, goats, rabbits, turkeys and other animals.

On the Plumas-Sierra Junior Livestock Auction website there is an option to donate to the Dixie Fire Relief Fund. There will be opportunities on sale day to support the 4-H members who were affected by the fire. In addition, there is an option for add-ons to support a child separate from buying an animal – for both 4-H and FFA members – that are in the sale.

“We would like to thank volunteers and sponsors for coming together on such short notice to host the livestock show event for my fellow 4-H and FFA exhibitors as well as myself,” said Kristin Roberti, Sierra Valley 4-H president, who has a steer entered in the event. “I will be joining over 100 other youth exhibiting livestock at the event this year, including a number of friends who have been impacted by the ongoing Dixie Fire and the Beckwourth Fire last month.”

2021-08-12T17:06:19-07:00August 12th, 2021|

The Truth: Plants do not USE water….The plants Borrow water

Plants Transpire Most of the Water They Use!

Editor’s note: California Ag Today interviewed Allan Fulton, an Irrigation and Water Resources Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension Tehama County, in Redbluff CA, to comment on the debate about the agricultural industry’s use of water and to focus on a critical but disregarded process—that all plants transpire, even plants cultivated for the crops we eat.

CalAgToday: We hear in the media that our crops are using too much water. And while all plants need water to grow food, we also know that a high percentage of water taken up by all plants actually transpires back into the atmosphere, to form clouds and precipitation, right?

Fulton: Yes, when plants transpire, the water just returns to the local hydrologic cycle, leaving the harvested crop that we distribute elsewhere in the US or in the world actually very low in water content.

CalAgToday: When we think about transpiration, are the plants actually “borrowing” the water?

Fulton: Yes. We get a lot of questions about why we irrigate our crops so much, and it comes from the general public not being as close to farming every day. The truth is, plant transpiration is a necessary biological process. The water cools the tree so it stays healthy and exits the leaves through special cells called stomata. While the stomates are open to allow water to transpire, carbon dioxide enters and is used in photosynthesis, making sugars and carbohydrates for the plant to create the fruits and nuts that we eat. So, an inadequately watered plant cannot take in enough carbon dioxide during transpiration, resulting in defective fruits and nuts that are smaller, shriveled, cracked—all the things the typical consumer does not want to buy.

Plants cannot gain carbon dioxide without simultaneously losing water vapor.[1]

CalAgToday: Can we say 95 or 99% of the water that is taken up by the plant gets transpired and definitely not wasted?

Fulton: Definitely. We converted to pressurized irrigation systems, micro-sprinklers, and mini sprinklers, so we have a lot more control over how much water we apply at any one time. We do not put water out in acre-feet or depths of 4-6 inches at a time anymore. So, much like when rainfall occurs, we can measure it in tenths, or 1 or 2 inches at most. As a result, the water doesn’t penetrate the soil very deeply, maybe only 1 or 2 feet each irrigation.

We are very efficient with the water, but because we deliver it in small doses, we have to irrigate very frequently. That is why we see irrigation systems running a lot, but they are systems that efficiently stretch our water supply and do not waste it.

CalAgToday: But again, the vast majority of the water that the tree is taking up is being transpired, right?

Fulton: Yes, most of the time, at least 90% of the water that we apply is taken up through the tree and transpired so that photosynthesis can happen.UCCE Tehama County

CalAgToday: And transpiration increases on a hot day?

Fulton: Yes, we do get a little bit of loss from surface evaporation from wet soil, but we try to control that with smaller wetting patterns—drip-confined wetting patterns. When you think about it, the heat of the day is in the afternoon when many irrigation systems don’t run because of higher energy costs. There are incentives not to pump in the middle of the afternoon, but those who do try to confine the wetted area to limit evaporation. And the hot hours of the day make up about 4 hours of a 24-hour cycle, so we irrigate mostly during the night time and early morning hours to lesson evaporative loss.

CalAgToday: Growers are doing everything they can to conserve water. If the trees and vines are all transpiring most of their irrigated water, why is using water to grow food a problem?

Fulton: I think the emphasis throughout the United States has always been to provide a secure food supply. That security has many benefits, economically and politically; and in the end, we are trying to provide the general public with good quality, safe food at the best price possible.

______________________________________________

[1]  Debbie Swarthout and C.Michael Hogan. 2010. Stomata. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment, Washington DC.

CIMIS

 

The California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) is a program unit in the Water Use and Efficiency Branch, Division of Statewide Integrated Water Management, California Department of Water Resources (DWR) that manages a network of over 145 automated weather stations in California. CIMIS was developed in 1982 by DWR and the University of California, Davis (UC Davis). It was designed to assist irrigators in managing their water resources more efficiently. Efficient use of water resources benefits Californians by saving water, energy, and money.

The CIMIS user base has expanded over the years. Currently, there are over 40,000 registered CIMIS data users, including landscapers, local water agencies, firefighters, air control board, pest control managers, university researchers, school teachers, students, construction engineers, consultants, hydrologists, government agencies, utilities, lawyers, weather agencies, and many more.

2021-08-04T18:34:08-07:00August 4th, 2021|

APG To Have Facebook Live Series with Their Ambassadors, And Others

American Pistachio Growers Kicks Off New Facebook Live Series

 

Monthly interviews will feature conversations with some of the world’s top athletes, adventurers and renowned nutrition and thought leaders, asking them “What fuels your goals?”

 

American Pistachio Growers (APG), armed with voluminous data that pistachios are packed with a multitude of benefits for active bodies and minds, is inaugurating a new 2021-22 Facebook Live Series — Friday Fuel-Up with Dr. Mike Roussell

 

  • to engage some of the most energetic and interesting people in the world with the question, What fuels you? The monthly series, which debuts August 6 and continues the first Friday of every month, is hosted by nutritionist Dr. Mike Roussell, a noted author and nutrition advisor to

Men’s Health Magazine.

“I’m ecstatic about the opportunity to bring to online audiences conversations with some of the world’s top athletes, adventurers and authorities in key areas of life,” said Roussell. “We’ll delve into their mindset, what drives them to succeed in their field, as well as the physical aspect of fueling success. In all episodes, there should be key takeaways that any listener can apply to their own life.”

 

The first eight months’ line-up of guests reads like a page out of Who’s Who. His first guest on August 6 is Luke Coutinho, a globally renowned holistic lifestyle coach and best-selling author, based in India, who’s known for his take on Eastern philosophy, nutrition and practices that also incorporate well into Western lifestyles.

 

The balance of the 2021 line-up includes: Scott H. Smith, PhD., Nutritionist and Manager for Nutritional Biochemistry for NASA’s Johnson Space Center, September 3; renowned Big Mountain snow boarder and National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Jeremy Jones, October 1; two-time Olympic gold medal-winning British triathlete Alistair Brownlee, November 5; and Bryan Snyder, Director of Nutrition for the Denver Broncos, December 3.

 

For 2022, Roussell will welcome 2021 Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey, January 7; Vicky Losada, international soccer star and leading advocate for womens’ and girls’ sports, February 4; and pro quarterback Josh Allen, March 4.

 

Audiences can join the conversations LIVE between Roussell and Coutinho on August 6 at 10 a.m. PST at Facebook.com/AmericanPistachios, the same time and place for all subsequent episodes in this first Friday-of-the-month series. Recorded programs will also be available on Instagram and YouTube.

2021-07-29T15:18:54-07:00July 29th, 2021|

Big Increase in State Budget for UCANR

Governor Signs ‘Transformational’ Budget for UC ANR Research and Outreach

 

By Pam Kan Rice, UCANR Assistant Director, New and Information Outreach

The state budget signed by Governor Newsom Monday night [July 12] includes a historic increase for the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. The state restored UC ANR’s budget to pre-COVID levels of FY 2019-20 and provided a 5% increase plus an additional $32 million in ongoing funding, bringing total state support to $107.9 million for the division, which contains the county-based UC Cooperative Extension, Integrated Pest Management, and 4-H Youth Development programs.

“This budget increase is transformational and will allow us to rebuild UC Cooperative Extension’s boots-on-the-ground to help Californians cope with wildfire, drought, and climate adaptation,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

Over the past 20 years, state funding for UC ANR decreased by almost 50% (adjusted for inflation), resulting in a significant reduction of UC ANR’s Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists – from 427 positions in 2001 down to only 269 in 2021 – creating vacancies in many critical positions.

“We appreciate UC ANR stakeholders for sounding the alarm,” Humiston said. “And we are immensely grateful to Senator John Laird, chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee on Education, for recognizing this critical need and for his leadership and dedication to restoring UC ANR’s budget to bring back Cooperative Extension throughout California.”

With this new funding, UC ANR will begin recruiting for 20 UC Cooperative Extension academic positions and prioritizing many more critical positions for hiring during the next several months.

“As in the past, we will be talking to our community partners and other stakeholders to identify the most pressing needs to prioritize the next round of hiring,” Humiston said. “We must identify positions to address California’s emerging and future needs. While this state budget increase will allow UC ANR to hire more people, we will continue seeking funding from additional sources to expand access to our diverse resources for all Californians.”

To learn more about how UC ANR enhances economic prosperity protects natural resources, develops an inclusive and equitable society, safeguards food, develops the workforce, builds climate resilience, and promotes the health of people and communities in California, see the stories in its 2020 annual report at https://ucanr.edu/sites/UCANR/files/352362.pdf.

2021-07-27T11:22:09-07:00July 27th, 2021|

USDA Radio Often Ignores California!

 

 

 

USDA Radio Newsline Focuses Primarily on Midwest Animal Feed Crops

They do not Seem to Care Much about the Food that People Eat, Except Rice and Peanuts

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

We get a daily email from the USDA Radio Newsline. More often than not, the reporters focus on program crops and not specialty crops. While this email did focus three reports on a new US Forest Service Chief, Randy Moore, and two addition reports on wildfires in the West, the rest of the lineup focused on Soybeans, Corn, Wheat and Barley.  We would hope that USDA would realize where most of the nutritious food is grown. We are talking big ag industries such as Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios, Tomatoes, Fresh Citrus, Raisin, Wine and Table Grapes; and many other specialty crops that are exclusively grown in California!
Animal feed is important, but what about the crops that consumers love to eat. That would very interesting to listeners around the country listening to hundreds of radio stations!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday July 26 Stories

  • U.S. Forest Service Has a New Chief
  • Forest Service Chief-We Need to Go on the Offensive to Help Prevent Wildfires
  • Actuality: Forest Service Chief’s Views on Climate Change and Wildfires
  • Actuality: Some Wildfires Are Behaving in Unexpected, Dangerous Ways
  • Shoppers May Soon See Shrinking Beef Supplies and Rising Prices
  • Dry Weather Leads to Corn, Soybean Condition Declines
  • Actuality: Details on Corn Crop Development
  • Actuality: A Detailed Look at Corn Conditions
  • Actuality: Soybean Crop Development is Progressing Ahead of Schedule
  • Actuality: Soybean Condition Details
  • Spring Wheat Conditions Continue Downward Plunge
  • Actuality: Spring Wheat Harvest is Underway
  • Actuality: Crop Progress Numbers for Barley Sharply Contrast with Last Year
  • Actuality: Winter Wheat Harvest Pace is Ahead of Average
  • Actuality: Rainy Weather Slows Cotton Development
  • Actuality: “Decent-Looking” Cotton Crop
  • Actuality: Rice — Slow Development, Good Condition
  • Actuality: Peanut Crop Pegging Behind Average, but Condition is Good
2021-07-26T17:28:59-07:00July 26th, 2021|

Valadao: Introduces Amendment to Help with Drought

Congressman David G. Valadao Introduces Three Amendments to Alleviate California Drought

 

Congressman David G. Valadao introduced recently three amendments to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which funds various federal agencies. Each of which would make strides toward alleviating the devastating California drought. The House Committee on Appropriations is responsible for appropriating funding for most of the functions of the federal government.

Congressman Valadao’s first amendment would extend California water storage provisions of the WIIN Act — Subtitle J — for one year. Certain provisions of the WIIN Act are set to expire soon, or have already expired, creating an urgent need for specific extensions. The amendment would also extend the authorization of appropriations for water storage projects that the Secretary of the Interior finds feasible. This language complements the RENEW WIIN Act and NEED Water Act that the congressman introduced earlier this year.

california drought

The WIIN Act, which President Obama signed into law in 2016, directed the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce to develop a new operations plan of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project, which was completed in February 2020. The resulting biological opinions (BiOps) provide flexibility and guidance to make use of California’s water to the fullest extent and avoid waste of this precious resource. The second amendment would codify the BiOps. These BiOps were independently peer-reviewed and informed by the most accurate, best available science. The corresponding operations plans for the Central Valley Project and State Water Project employs this science and data to ensure greater water reliability and availability for communities and farms across California, while continuing to protect at-risk species.

 

Congressman Valadao’s third amendment would provide funding to restore the conveyance capacity of canal infrastructure facilities to move flood flows to groundwater recharge areas in order to help farmers comply with new state laws related to groundwater pumping. Major San Joaquin Valley canals would benefit from this program.

 

House Appropriations Committee Democrats voted down all three amendments.

 

“When I meet with my constituents, the same issue arises: the desperate need for water. Today I introduced three amendments to address California’s crumbling water infrastructure, storage issues, and lack of operational flexibility for communities and farmers. Farmers across the Central Valley are being forced to tear up their crops to conserve water—crops that would have fed families across the United States and across the world. Communities in my district’s wells are drying up, if they aren’t already dry,” said Congressman Valadao. “Once again, my colleagues across the aisle refuse to acknowledge the fact that we have a crisis on our hands. I am incredibly disappointed that the Majority rejected my amendments — real people need our help, and it’s clear the Democrats are unwilling to provide it. I will not stop fighting to bring a solution to the Central Valley.”

 

2021-07-23T14:24:45-07:00July 23rd, 2021|
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