Daily Digest: Drought’s impacts on soil toxins, tricolored blackbirds, marijuana prices and more …

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
In California water news today, drought is worsening soil toxins and imperiling tricolored blackbirds, drought and growth in the West intensify conflicts over water rights, Garamendi & LaMalfa plan pitch for Sites Reservoir, Salmon outlook improves, Impact of drought on marijuana prices and water cannons, water conservation plans, and no drought for Imperial Valley

In the news today …

  • Drought is worsening soil toxins:  “Salinity and scarcity of water were very much in the spotlight at the 2014 California Plant and Soil Conference in Fresno.  Multiple speakers showed pictures of what they labeled “California snow,” salt that had precipitated out atop soil where trees and other crops fight to grow.  They painted a grim picture of a year in which sparse winter rains have done little to drive toxic minerals deeper, away from plant roots. They said an expected lack of available water will take away one of the weapons growers can use to combat the toxins. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  California soil toxins worsened by drought
  • Drought imperiling tricolored blackbirds in Central Valley:A single colony of 80,000 tricolor blackbirds filled a Tulare County farmer's field with nests and eggs a few years ago shortly before harvesting blades were scheduled to level the crop.  It would have been an ugly killing field if not for a delay negotiated between the farmer and Audubon California. The financial settlement saved one-third of Earth's dwindling population of tricolored blackbirds.  But California's epic drought may prevent such heroic ag-conservation alliances this year. And the tricolored blackbird finally may be pushed to long-dreaded protection under the Endangered Species Act. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Dry spring imperils dwindling tricolored blackbirds in Valley
  • Drought and growth in the west intensify conflict over water rights:  “Across the parched American West, the long drought has set off a series of fierce legal and political battles over who controls an increasingly dear treasure — water.  Just outside this minuscule farm town, Frank DeStefano was feeding a 500-acre cotton crop with water from the Brazos River 16 months ago when state regulators told him and hundreds of others on the river to shut down their pumps. A sprawling petrochemical complex at the junction of the Brazos and the Gulf of Mexico held senior rights to the river’s water — and with the Brazos shriveled, it had run short. ... ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  West’s Drought and Growth Intensify Conflict Over Water Rights
  • Garamendi and LaMalfa plan pitch for Sites Reservoir: Congressman John Garamendi, a Democrat, is joining with a couple of Republicans to introduce bipartisan legislation, including a bill to free up funds to build Sites Reservoir in Colusa County.  Garamendi, D-Fairfield, whose district includes Yuba-Sutter, is working with fellow Congressman Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, to seek the funding. The proposed reservoir would provide 1.9 million acre- feet of water storage for northern California.  The two will hold a joint press conference at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Maxwell. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Political Notes: Garamendi, LaMalfa pitch for Sites
  • Salmon outlook improves“In just a few days last week, the outlook for salmon off the Bay Area coast upgraded from a doomsday scenario to a new dawn.  The reversal of fortune is in time for this year's California opener April 5, and the impact will be felt for years.  The biggest news is that 12 million juvenile salmon scheduled to be set free in the next month from Coleman National Fish Hatchery in Shasta County will instead be trucked to the bay and released in pulses from submerged net pens, according to a plan announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Salmon outlook takes sharp turn for the better
  • Drought effects on marijuana prices unclear:  Just in case you were wondering … “Local community members said it may be too early to estimate the California drought's effect on Humboldt County marijuana prices, though the market has been so flooded with product for quite some time that prices may not even increase to what they were a few years ago.  Chip Perry, manager of Medical Cannabis Consultants and Evaluations in Eureka that helps people get paperwork to legally use marijuana, said consumers are going to pay whatever price for the product.  ”Marijuana prices have gone down almost 40 percent in the last couple of years,” Perry said. “In the last four years the amount of people growing has at least doubled. Prices have gone down because the supply is so high.” ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard:  Drought effects on local marijuana prices still unclear; Market’s been so flooded for years, increase in cost may still not be as high as it previously was
  • You know this drought's getting serious when the Saudi’s won’t get water cannons for their arrival ceremony at LAX ...
  • Water conservation plans offer incentives first, penalties later:The biggest problem envisioned by drought-weary Southern California water suppliers was not how to get more water, but rather how to convince a skeptical and jaded public the drought is real.  At a recent meeting of the San Gabriel Valley Water Association, water managers and directors were concerned that the public would see the recent rains as a drought buster, when nothing could be further from the truth. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Press Telegram here:  Water conservation plans offer incentives first, penalties later
  • No drought for the Imperial Valley:  “Thomas Cox, a third-generation Imperial Valley farmer, is driving his pickup along the gravel roads that separate large fields of lettuce, broccoli, onions and wheat.  The discussion turns, as it often does in the Imperial Valley, to water. “Without water,” said Cox, 27, “our ground would be useless.”  But with copious amounts of water, the Cox family and others have turned half a million acres of desert into one of the most bountiful farming regions in the world — a fact unchanged by the drought gripping much of California.  While other areas — including the farm belt of the Central Valley — face immediate supply cutbacks, the Imperial Valley continues to have all the water it can use. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here:  For Imperial Valley farmers, abundant water amid drought

Plenty (seriously!) more news in the weekend edition …

In commentary today …

  • Cattle ranching critical to environment, even during drought, says Karen Sweet with the California Department of Food and Agriculture: It is human nature to come at a crisis from one’s own point of view. Sometimes, however, that can lead to conclusions and courses of action that are ineffective at best and drastically short-sighted at worst. With the drought and its impact on agriculture in the news, I am taking this opportunity as a beef cattle rancher to provide insight into California’s cattle production, its value to our environment and our state’s economy, and what ranchers are doing to conserve water not only during this severe drought, but all the time. ... ”  Continue reading at Cattle Network here:  Cattle ranching critical to environment, even during drought
DWR's reservoir graphic

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Check the latest reservoir conditions …

What’s on the calendar …

Precipitation watch …

  • Dry cold front, no rain, says the National Weather Service:Gusty northerly winds will develop through the Central Valley this morning and continue into this evening. Gusts of 40-45 mph will be possible. Strong winds will continue tonight along the west side of the Sacramento Valley, but will decrease somewhat for valley areas east of the Sacramento River.

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

custom_text_on_platform_with_red_carpet_12122Check out last week’s most popular posts and out-clicks ….

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About the Daily Digest: The Daily Digest is a collection of selected news articles, commentaries and editorials appearing in the mainstream press. Items are generally selected to follow the focus of the Notebook blog. The Daily Digest is published every weekday with a weekend edition posting on Sundays.

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