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Browsing the archives for the Agriculture – California category.

Hispanic ranchers’ case against U.S. Forest Service over grazing rights heats up

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, cattle

grazing new mexico.jpg

May 1, 2014: Cattle graze in a field outside Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico May 1, 2014. (Reuters)

As summer gets ready to start, a federal judge is weighing whether to let a discrimination case brought on by a group of Hispanic ranchers to limit grazing move forward.

The ranchers claim the U.S. Forest Service is trying to push them from land in northern New Mexico that has been worked by their families for centuries.

A decision by U.S. District Judge James Browning is expected by September. Last week, Browning heard arguments on a motion by the Forest Service to dismiss the case.

At stake, ranchers say, is a piece of Hispanic culture and the economic viability of several northern New Mexico communities that depend on access to surrounding lands for everything from grazing to firewood.

Simeon Herskovits, an attorney for the ranchers, argued that the Forest Service was using the motion to short-circuit a full-fledged discussion of the issues raised by the case. He also suggested that the agency failed to understand the intrinsic cultural connection the ranchers have to the land.

“There’s a very special relationship, history and heritage that exists in parts of northern New Mexico. This must be considered carefully,” he said.

The lawsuit centers on a 2010 decision to cut grazing by 18 percent on the Jarita Mesa and Alamosa grazing allotments, which are part of an area recognized by the federal government for special treatment aimed at benefiting land grant heirs.

The Forest Service has argued that management practices by the ranchers contributed to overuse of meadows in the two allotments and that fences were either poorly maintained or in disrepair.

The ranchers disputed those claims, pointing to what they called the agency’s failure to manage wild horses and elk grazing in the area. They said the decision to curb livestock grazing was retribution for them speaking out about Forest Service management practices.

Defense attorney Andrew Smith raised questions about whether some of the ranchers could sue the agency in the first place. He said some didn’t hold grazing permits and others didn’t file administrative appeals when the district ranger first issued her decision to limit grazing.

Smith also argued there was no evidence to show that limiting the business of one rancher would affect the community.

David Sanchez of the Northern New Mexico Stockmen’s Association said half of the grazing fees collected by the federal government come back to the county to fund schools and other projects.

Sanchez said the area is rural and traditional industries such as ranching and woodcutting are the only source of income for some families.

“What’s left for these people? If the government wants them all on food stamps, then take away their grazing permits,” he said. “The government is attacking poor people. It’s like David and Goliath.”

The ranchers’ lawsuit chronicles a history in which they say the property rights of Hispanics have been ignored and an institutional bias has been allowed to continue despite the Forest Service’s obligation to accommodate their dependency on the land.

Herskovits mentioned during Thursday’s hearing a 1972 policy that emerged following the raid of the Tierra Amarilla Courthouse in 1967 over unresolved land grant issues. That policy noted the relationship Hispanic residents of northern New Mexico had with the land and declared their culture a resource that must be recognized when setting agency objectives and policies.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/05/25/hispanic-ranchers-case-against-us-forest-service-over-grazing-rights-heats-up/

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The North Coast Regional Water Board met with growers on Friday

Agriculture - California, State gov, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

Photo by Adrian Baumann-TWN. Representatives from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board met with growers in Laytonville on May 8 to review the proposed new regulations.

Posted:

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Representatives from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board came to Mendocino County last Friday, May 8, to give a presentation on the new regulatory scheme that will attempt, for the first time, to enforce environmental regulations for the marijuana industry on the North Coast. About 50 people, about evenly split between greybeards and the younger generation of growers, attended the event which was held in the Laytonville Grange, and organized by Mendocino Chair of the Emerald Growers Association (EGA) Casey O’Neill and Mai Nguyen a Ukiah Valley grain farmer. Geologist Derek Magnuson and Environmental Scientist Connor McIntee represented the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, Tom Wheeler of the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), also presented.

The Water Board is empowered to enforce environmental rules under the federal Clean Water Act and the California Porter-Cologne Act, and the new regulatory scheme can be viewed as a new attempt to enforce existing environmental rules. Chief among the components of this new regulatory scheme is the marijuana cultivation waiver. The waiver process, which will soon become a requirement for cannabis cultivators on the North Coast, is a new effort by the Water Board to document and address environmental problems.

It establishes three tiers of marijuana farms based on size, the local environment, and how much of an environmental risk they pose. Entrance into the program will result in suggestions by the Water Board on how to correct environmental damages, and provide farmers a grace period allowing them to correct the violations before administering penalties.

During his portion of the meeting Wheeler noted the Water Board’s leadership on the issue, “I want to also thank the local water board, they’ve taken a leadership role where other people haven’t. In particular I think the counties need to step up more and water board is filling that role.”

But as the meeting progressed it became apparent that many of the questions asked by the attendees, and the concerns expressed by the Water Board representatives, actually had more to do with water rights than with pollution. That is, with low streamflows as a result of diversions, and whether people had a legal right to irrigate using their streams. Nguyen noted that she had attempted to contact the Division of Water Rights (DWR) at the state board and had received no response. Due to the absence of a representative from the DWR many questions went unanswered, and a general level of frustration could be observed from all parties.

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http://www.willitsnews.com/general-news/20150513/the-north-coast-regional-water-board-met-with-growers-on-friday

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One California Farmer’s Battle to Win Water

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, Lawsuits, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

California farmer Jim Jasper may have lost his bid in the nation’s highest court to boost water supplies for agricultural use in America’s Bread Basket, but he isn’t giving up the fight for more water.

With the state in the fourth year of a historic drought, Jasper is seeking new solutions and a “common sense” approach to save farmland and the agricultural economy, while keeping balance with nature.

Jasper unsuccessfully challenged a ruling that limits the amount of water pumped through canals in the state’s Central Valley that supplies millions of people with drinking water and millions of acres of farmland with irrigation.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year ruled that economic considerations did not trump environmental concerns in protecting the tiny Delta smelt fish that only live in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The fish are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Earlier this year the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal, which had been joined by water districts such as the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. It provides nearly 17 million people with drinking water, including the cities of Los Angeles and San Diego.

More on this…

  • California farmer struggles for water

Meanwhile, Jasper and other growers are feeling the effects of stricter water conservation policies. Farmers have been denied federal water for a second straight year, while water gently flows by in the canal system a stone’s throw from cracked earth and fallow fields.

The court rulings aim to keep higher water levels in the canals that aren’t moving swiftly, although some experts say the moves are not helping save the Delta smelt. UC Davis fish biologist Peter Moyle has told state authorities to prepare for the smelt’s extinction.

There doesn’t seem to be any relief in site from Mother Nature. The California Department of Water Resources reports water levels, the snowpack, and reservoirs are all below historical levels.

“We’re at maximum water in the past week or two. That’s six weeks earlier than normal, that’s a significant impact,” says Pablo Arroyave, deputy regional director for the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. This agency is responsible for the canal system.

California Republican Assembly Leader Kristin Olsen of Modesto charges current state policies have “favored fish over people.” Olsen says farmers have fallowed over 400,000 acres of land and more than 17,000 farm workers are out of work due to a dearth of water.

Jasper had to fallow 20% of the farm’s 2,000 acres in the past few years because of drought, and several neighbors have abandoned raising crops altogether. He has been running the family-owned Stewart & Jasper Orchards, which has been farming in Newman, Calif. since 1948. But the patriarch worries the future may not be as bright when his son, or his grandson, takes over the business.

http://www.foxbusiness.com/industries/2015/05/19/california-farmers-battling-increasing-water-restrictions/

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California farmers in line for more drought cutbacks

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality, Watermaster Service

May 11, 2015

SacBee.com

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California’s water regulators spent last week hammering cities and suburbs, implementing first-ever cutbacks in urban water use in response to the state’s prolonged drought.

Now they’re turning their attention back to agriculture.

State Water Resources Control Board officials said Monday that they expect to issue “curtailment orders” soon to the state’s most senior water rights holders, effectively shutting off the flow of river water to some of the major agricultural districts in California.

The senior holders are mostly agricultural districts that enjoy rights that are off-limits to regulators except for the most dire circumstances. It’s a measure of the severity of California’s drought, now in its fourth year, that those senior rights are about to get cut off. The last time that happened was during another punishing drought in the late 1970s.

“We’re talking weeks, not months,” before a decision is made, said water board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus in a meeting with reporters and editors of The Sacramento Bee. The board first signaled more than a month ago that senior rights would be curtailed.

Agency officials said the timing of the decision will depend on up-to-the-minute changes in supply and demand for water. Last week’s rains, mild as they were, “pushed things back a bit,” said Caren Trgovcich, the agency’s chief deputy director.

“We want to make sure we don’t cut it off sooner than we need to,” Trgovcich said. “We’re really watching the weather, is what we’re doing. We’re watching the (river) flows.”

The orders will mark the next chapter in what’s shaping up as another grim summer for California’s $40 billion-a-year farm economy. Farmers get their supplies from a variety of sources, including groundwater and surface water piped in by the state and federal governments via a statewide network of canals and reservoirs. The curtailment orders would affect surface water only.

The practical impact of the curtailment orders, however, remains to be seen. In one of the many wrinkles found in California’s complex system of water rights, the state can’t touch water that farmers have tucked into storage behind dams at Shasta Lake or other reservoirs. That’s happened already at some agricultural districts.

“Many water rights holders knew this was coming,” water board spokesman George Kostyrko said.

The South San Joaquin Irrigation District is among those senior rights holders that have stored water in advance of the state’s orders. “It won’t have an impact on us,” said Jeff Shields, general manager of South San Joaquin.

That doesn’t mean all farm districts will simply accept the state’s decision. Shields and Andy Christensen, general manager of the Woodbridge Irrigation District near Lodi, said they expect multiple agencies to sue the water board to challenge its ability to curtail their rights.

“This is a constitutional issue,” Christensen said. “I think it is going to be tested in court.”

Already, many agricultural districts have seen dramatic cutbacks in deliveries from the two main man-made delivery systems, the State Water Project and the federal government’s Central Valley Project. On May 1, the state water board issued curtailment notices to thousands of junior rights holders, ordering them to stop diverting water from the rivers.

“From a hydrology standpoint, that … no water is available is pretty remarkable,” said Kevin O’Brien of the Downey Brand law firm in Sacramento, who represents multiple agricultural water districts bracing for a cutoff.

All told, industry representatives say agriculture has lost about one-third of its surface water this year. Groundwater helps mitigate the pain, enabling many farmers to stitch together irrigation for their crops, but a new groundwater-regulation law will curb farmers’ ability to pump without limits in the coming years. Even with groundwater available, farmers statewide expect to fallow several hundred thousand acres of land this year, depressing crop production in rice, tomatoes and other commodities.

That follows a pattern similar to last year, when 420,000 acres were idled. That was 5 percent of the total.

“Agriculture has borne the brunt of this drought for well over a year,” Marcus said.

California water is apportioned through a complicated legal system that effectively grants senior rights to the users that began drawing water out of the rivers the earliest. Generally speaking, senior rights holders are those who established a claim before the state’s rights system was formally established in 1914.

Junior rights holders must be cut off before the state can begin curtailing those with senior rights. The result is a polyglot in which some agricultural districts fare pretty well while others are cut off from their surface water supplies altogether. “The pain is felt unevenly,” Marcus said.

Even with the curtailment orders coming, many agricultural districts will maintain the bulk of their water supplies. For instance, many agricultural agencies in the Sacramento Valley are “settlement contractors” whose ability to access river water was obliterated by construction of Shasta Dam in 1945. In return for giving up the claim to that water, they made deals with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation so their water deliveries are guaranteed at a minimum 75 percent.

One of those districts, the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, expects to take more than 33,000 acres of land out of production this year. That’s about one-half of the district’s total acreage, said general manager Thad Bettner.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article20686734.html#storylink=cpy

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Drought doesn’t stop nation’s most ambitious salmon revival in San Joaquin River

Agriculture - California, California Rivers, California water, Salmon and fish

April 25, 2015

From: Mark Grossi, Fresno Bee

•  Drought has choked off restoration water flows.

• The salmon revival continues with water released for riverside use.

• Even in this drought, scientists are learning a lot about the San Joaquin River.

———

Young salmon glide through shallow riffles in the San Joaquin River, not far from busy shopping centers, swift Fresno traffic and a golf course.

The southernmost salmon stream in North America might seem like an afterthought in city life here, but don’t let that fool you. The San Joaquin is home to the nation’s most ambitious salmon-river restoration — bringing back both fish and a river six decades after they died.

Nobody has brought back a salmon run in a 350-mile river that dried up for 60 miles. It’s a controversial project with a price tag that could climb to several billion dollars, And it’s already in motion.

Now in its sixth year, the revival won’t stop even for California’s dire drought.

Federal biologists say they can’t lose this season’s young salmon, known as parr. This fragile salmon run must keep going so science can collect more facts about a river with little or no past data on salmon.

“We learned a lot last year about this river in a drought,” said fish biologist Don Portz of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. “We know a lot more about where the fish are in the river and what they need to survive in this river.”

The restoration has never been popular among the east San Joaquin Valley farmers who grudgingly agreed to give up water for it because they were losing an environmental lawsuit.

Farmers now say the project should be changed due to a lack of funding and the warming climate. Salmon need cold water. Why not just return the river flow and allow warm-water species of fish?

But environmentalists say there’s no evidence climate change will stop a salmon run here. The Southern Sierra is the highest part of the mountain range, making it less susceptible to loss of snowpack for the San Joaquin.

“The goal is to work together to restore a swimmable and fishable river that flows past farms and communities,” said senior scientist Monty Schmitt of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which represented the plaintiffs in the environmental lawsuit.

Bass feeding on young salmon

One of the biggest revelations this year: It has been a deadly time for young fall-run salmon, says Portz and his biologist colleagues, Chuck Hueth and Shawn Root. Bass in the San Joaquin have been feasting on the young.

Last year, Portz trapped 2,393 young salmon. Near the end of the trapping season now, he has captured only 561 so far.

“The bass have just hammered salmon,” he says.

The biologists capture the young, carefully load them in a tank and drive them by truck to the confluence of the Merced River on the Valley’s west side. The fish are released and begin their perilous swim to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and out to the Pacific Ocean.

The parents of these fish were captured beyond the intersection of the San Joaquin and Merced river. They were moved by truck last year upstream near Fresno where they spawned.

Portz and biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife took tissue samples from the adults. Using DNA identification from the salmon offspring, the biologists located which fish nests, or redds, were used in successful spawning.

Now scientists know places in the river where gravel size, temperature, depth and dissolved oxygen are working for spawning.

Passive integrated transponders, called PIT tags, have been delicately inserted into the offspring so their progress through the river can be tracked as they move toward the Pacific. The PIT tags are detected at electronic monitoring stations along the river. The location, time and identity number of the fish are loaded into a database.

The youngsters are contending with a low flow of water and warming conditions. The restoration program has not used water from Millerton Lake in more than a year because of the drought.

But in an odd twist, the drought brought more water into the river last year for a different reason.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released several times more water than normal from Millerton into the river last year — not for fish or east-side farmers, though. The water was sent to west Valley growers who have historic rights to the San Joaquin. Usually, the west-siders would get water from the delta, but it was not available.

So there was an unaccustomed whoosh from Millerton Lake down the San Joaquin.

“A few people might have thought it was for fish,” Portz says. “It wasn’t.”

A boon to nature

Hundreds of millions of dollars will have to be invested in bypass channels, channel rebuilding and other engineering fixes so salmon can swim back and forth to the Pacific Ocean. Farm criticism mounts. Critics point to a lack of funding and delay.

NRDC’s Schmitt says the restoration has been fully funded thus far, and the program’s own assessment says there are funding sources to complete critical projects.

Most of the money will be spent on rebuilding aging water supply and flood control infrastructure and high groundwater seepage protection for landowners – a problem that existed for landowners “before the river was illegally dried up in the 1940s,” he says.

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http://www.fresnobee.com/2015/04/25/4494375_drought-doesnt-stop-nations-most.html?rh=1

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CA. Dist. 4 Congressman Tom McClintock speaks of California drought

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, CA. Congressman Tom McClintock, California Rivers, California water

Save Our Water
House Chambers, Washington, D.C.
April 22, 2015

Mr. Speaker:

California is now in its fourth year of the worst drought on record. Hydrologists estimate it is the worst drought in 1,200 years. The Sierra Snowpack today is just six percent of normal. Many of our reservoirs are nearly empty. One of our largest, the New Melones Reservoir on the Stanislaus River, is at just 22 percent of its capacity – with the rainy season now officially over.

Water rationing is now in effect in many communities. Many Californians face $500 fines if they take too long in the shower or spill a gallon of water on their sidewalks.

And yet in the last several weeks, the Bureau of Reclamation has released about 10 BILLION gallons of what precious little water remains behind the New Melones Dam in order to nudge a handful of steelhead trout toward the ocean.

That’s enough water to meet the annual residential needs of a human population of 300,000. How many fish are affected?

Biologists estimate that it will affect the offspring of about 29 steelhead trout in the Stanislaus River – a few hundred smolts almost all of which will be eaten by predators long before they reach the ocean. And that assumes they won’t swim toward the ocean on their own – as they have been doing without our helpful assistance since time immemorial.

Put in financial terms, with water selling for $700 per acre foot, the cost of this ridiculous exercise is about $21million. But the real cost will be felt in the fall if the rains don’t return. At that point, these releases guarantee there will be no water left for human beings OR fish.

All this occurs AFTER a compromise without which Lake Tulloch, below New Melones, would have been drained below the water intake pipes that serve a population of nearly 10,000 human beings.

When are we going to wake up to the lunacy of these current environmental laws and the ideological zealots who are administering them?

Who in his right mind would dump enough water to meet the annual residential needs of a population of 300,000 human beings in order to nudge toward the ocean the offspring of maybe 29 steelhead trout – it could be as few as 6 – in the worst drought in 12 centuries? Yet that is precisely the policy of this administration.

President Obama has authority under the existing Endangered Species Act to convene a process to suspend these laws during the drought. Governor Brown also has the authority to request the president to act. Despite repeated calls to do so, neither has responded.

Ironically, before we built these dams, in a drought like this, there would be no water in the rivers and there would be no fish.

Nor is this waste limited to just one reservoir and one river. The Bureau of Reclamation is ordering pulse flows throughout the state, completely uncaring of the impact on the rapidly endangered species called Homo sapiens.

Mr. Speaker, three weeks ago, I introduced HR 1668, the Save Our Water Act. It simply provides that during an extreme drought, the requirements for massive environmental pulse flows are suspended. I want to urge speedy consideration and passage of this act, but I fear it will not come in time to prevent the exhaustion of our remaining water supply.

I warned of this practice last year, and I appealed to state and federal water managers to suspend these water releases during the drought. Sadly, I was unable to rally much public interest – I think in large part because few people actually believed that our water policy could possibly be so foolish.

They do now. We are now reaching a crisis that can no longer be ignored, and Californians are now starting to realize that our environmental laws long ago passed from the realm of reason to the realm of ideological extremism.

Droughts are nature’s fault. Water shortages are OUR fault. We once built dams to store water from wet years so that we would have it in dry ones. But the same radical environmental laws that are squandering our existing water supply have also obstructed the construction of any major new storage since 1979, while the population has nearly doubled.

Dr. Johnson once said that when a man is to be hanged in the morning, it concentrates his attention remarkably. If any good comes out of this drought, it may be that the American people finally have focused on the damage these laws have done, and are ready to change them and the zealots responsible for them.

 

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No listing for Sierra sage grouse sends signal across West

Agriculture - California, Bureau of Land Management, Endangered Species Act, Federal gov & land grabs

PNP comment:Best way to endanger or threaten a species is to list it with the ESA for the bureaucrats to manage — destroy! Editor Liz Bowen

No Listing for Sierra Sage Grouse Sends Signal Across West

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell reversed the government’s proposed federal protection for a type of sage grouse specific to California and Nevada on Tuesday, and said it shows it’s still possible to head off a bigger, looming listing decision for the greater sage grouse across 11 western states.

Jewell joined Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and others in announcing she’s withdrawing the government’s 2013 proposal to declare the bistate, Mono Basin sage grouse a threatened species along the California-Nevada line.

The bird found only along the Sierra’s eastern front no longer faces the threat of extinction thanks to voluntary conservation efforts and range improvements initiated by ranchers, local governments, private land owners and public land managers, she said.

“What this has shown is that despite the stresses we feel on the landscape here — particularly around drought and wildfire and other stresses that impact this part of the world — we can still create and find habitat that supports sage grouse,” Jewell said in a speech outside Nevada Department of Wildlife headquarters in Reno.

“There’s no reason you can’t have a healthy state with a healthy economy and a healthy ecosystem. By working together, you can have it all,” she said.

The bistate bird is a genetically distinct population of the greater sage grouse species, which is under consideration for protection in Nevada, California and nine other states stretching from Oregon to the Dakotas.

“This is welcome news for all Nevadans,” said Sandoval, a Republican. “Working together, I’m hopeful we can preclude the need to list the greater sage grouse just as we have done with the bistate.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is under a court order to make a listing decision on the greater sage grouse by Sept. 30 in a legal battle with conservationists that spans more than 15 years.

“I think it is very possible not to list that species,” Jewell told reporters after her bistate announcement.

Conservationists who petitioned to protect both populations accused Jewell of caving to pressure from Western conservatives who fear federal protection would mean dramatic restrictions on livestock grazing, energy exploration and other development of public lands.

Michael Connor, California director of the nonprofit Western Watersheds Project, said that as recently as last December federal officials had assigned the bistate grouse the “maximum priority for listing” based on the magnitude of threats facing the isolated population across more than 7,000 square miles Carson City to near Yosemite National Park.

“The service’s backpedalling in claiming that unfinished management plans and voluntary, cooperative agreements will protect the species is untrue and smacks of political expediency,” Connor said Tuesday.

Randi Spivak, public lands director for the Center for Biological Diversity, agreed. “Half measures may delay extinction but it won’t prevent it,” Spivak said.

Jewell said the decision not to list the bistate grouse should be “real encouraging” for other western states pursuing similar voluntary measures to ward off listing of the greater sage grouse.

“I think if it had been listed after all the hard work and effort after 15 years, it would make people discouraged — ‘Gosh, we’ve worked together so hard and maybe there isn’t a way to protect these ecosystems,’ ” Jewell told reporters.

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/apnewsbreak-us-protection-sage-grouse-population-30470719

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Most Sacramento communities get even bigger water cuts under revised mandates

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, CA & OR, Water, Resources & Quality

SacBee.com

04/18/2015 9:07 AM

04/18/2015 9:12 PM

The revised conservation mandates unveiled by state water regulators Saturday would require most Sacramento-area communities to make even bigger cuts in water use than originally proposed, disappointing area leaders who argue the state should take into account the region’s hot weather and large lot sizes.

Thirteen of the 23 water agencies in the Sacramento region would be required to cut residential water use by 36 percent compared with 2013 under a revised proposal issued by the State Water Resources Control Board on Saturday. That is the most severe cut proposed in the framework, reserved for agencies with the highest per capita usage in the state.

The water board’s revised regulations divvy the state’s water agencies among nine tiers, based on their per capita water use in the summer of 2014. Under this new distribution, all but two Sacramento-area communities will have to cut usage by at least 28 percent over 2013.

Earlier this month, citing unprecedented drought conditions, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered urban water agencies across California to cut water use 25 percent on average by next February. The water board, which regulates water rights in California, issued its framework in response to that order, requiring deeper cuts in communities that have the highest per capita water use.

California’s drought, now in its fourth year, has depleted reservoirs and groundwater supplies in many parts of the state. Following an unusually dry winter, mountain snowpack in the state measured just 5 percent of normal April 1, meaning the snowmelt California relies on to replenish its reservoirs will be in short supply this summer.

Water board officials said proposed cuts would save 1.3 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months, or about as much as currently sits in Lake Oroville.

“We are in a drought like we have not seen before,” water board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said during a conference call with reporters Saturday. “All Californians have to step up and prepare as if it won’t rain or snow again next year.”

The state action represents the first time in history that California cities have been ordered to meet targets for reduced water use. Last year, the governor called on urban water agencies to voluntarily cut use by 20 percent, but the state as a whole met that goal only once in the last eight months, and most months fell far short.

The draft framework issued Saturday marks the water board’s second proposal in its effort to carry out the governor’s order. Its first version, released April 7, prompted a war of words among urban water agencies that in many ways broke down between north and south, coastal and inland, over who should be required to make the biggest cuts.

Many Sacramento-area districts argued they should not be held to the same standards as coastal communities that benefit from higher densities and moderate climates. Many south-state agencies argued they should get credit for costly conservation efforts that in some cases stretch back more than a decade.

In issuing the revised regulations, water board officials said the new nine-tiered system – mandating cutbacks ranging from 4 percent to 36 percent – does a better job of taking into account previous conservation efforts than the original draft, which used only four tiers. But they held fast in not granting concessions based on lot size and temperature.

During the conference call, Marcus said hotter areas with larger lots are exactly where the state can achieve the biggest conservation bang for the buck this summer, simply by getting residents and businesses to reduce exterior watering. Officials made a point, however, of saying residents should continue to water trees, which provide cooling and air-quality benefits.

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Groups Criticize Ag Secretary for Allowing Checkoff-funded NCBA to Attack COOL

Agriculture - California, cattle

 

Washington, D.C. – In a graphic issued today, R-CALF USA and the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) criticize Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for not doing his job to end the abuses to the national Beef Checkoff Program (Beef Checkoff) perpetrated by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).

The NCBA receives over 80 percent of its funding from the Beef Checkoff and was forced to reimburse the producer-paid program after a 2010 independent compliance review found that over $216,000 in producer contributions had been misappropriated.

In their report, the compliance reviewers stated that their findings indicate that NCBA breached the firewall that was supposedly protecting producer-contributions from being used for unlawful purposes.

The use of Beef Checkoff funds in any manner to influence governmental action or policy is unlawful under the program. Yet, according to R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard and OCM President Mike Callicrate, Vilsack refused to take any enforcement action against the NCBA for its misuse of producer funds.

Instead, the NCBA was authorized by Vilsack to continue receiving nearly $40 million in Beef Checkoff funds each year and in 2013 the government-funded NCBA joined with meatpackers to attack the United States’ country of origin labeling (COOL) law in a federal lawsuit and is now actively lobbying Congress to drastically weaken if not repeal COOL.

“This epitomizes domestic corruption,” Bullard said adding, “The peoples’ Congress passed COOL and now a federal agency is funding an organization that has a singular mission to destroy what the people have achieved.”

“The Secretary made overtures suggesting he wanted to reform the Beef Checkoff but he hastily retreated at the first sign of resistance – which came in the form of obscure, non-binding report language in a recent appropriations bill,” said Callicrate.

“The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and its multinational meat packers want to keep you in the dark about where your food comes from,” the graphic states.

The graphic warns that if the NCBA is not stopped the U.S. will lose more ranchers and the amount of food imported into the U.S. will increase.

“And Secretary Vilsack, it’s your job to end NCBA’s abuse of the cattlemen’s Beef Checkoff,” the graphic concludes.

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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only cattle trade association in the United States. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.

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LEARN ABOUT THE NEW VACCINE FOR FOOTHILL ABORTION 4-30-15

Agriculture - California

Presentation by Dr. Stott,

Professor of the School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis
and

Billy Gatlin of the California Cattleman’s Association

Thursday April 30th at

12 — Noon

Fort Jones Community Center

Dotty’s BBQ will be available for purchase

Dessert provided by Scott River Watershed Council

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