DAILY DIGEST, 9/4: Judge to decide if SF Bay salt ponds are protected US waters; New report: San Joaquin Valley Water System Investment Program; Foster Farms accused of wasting water to kill chickens; New online portal for algal blooms; and more …

In California water news today …

Judge to decide if San Francisco Bay salt ponds are protected US waters

A Justice Department lawyer urged a federal judge Thursday to uphold the Trump administration’s finding that vast salt ponds slated for redevelopment along the San Francisco Bay are not protected “waters of the United States.”  “This isn’t in any way, shape or form resembling the tidal environment that it used to be in the early 1900s,” Justice Department lawyer Andrew Doyle argued in a telephonic hearing Thursday morning.  California and a coalition of environmental groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency one year ago, challenging the agency’s March 2019 rule that the 1,365-acre Redwood City Salt Ponds south of San Francisco fall outside the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News here: Judge to decide if San Francisco Bay salt ponds are protected US waters

New report: San Joaquin Valley Water System Investment Program

New groundwater regulations will take a huge toll on our economy; in fact, upwards of $7 billion annually will be lost in the San Joaquin Valley alone due to the projected lost agricultural production. A new report by the California Water Institute (CWI) outlines how strategic water infrastructure investments can help mitigate these economic losses and outlines key findings on potential next steps for funding and implementing water infrastructure that leverages state, federal and local dollars over a 30-year period.  The publication assesses current conditions and economic impacts, and then makes recommendations for infrastructure, funding, and governance.”  Download the report from the California Water Institute here:  San Joaquin Valley Water System Investment Program

Feature-length documentary explores the past, present and uncertain future of San Joaquin Valley rivers and water supplies

Until the Last Drop,” a feature-length documentary filmed along the banks of the Merced, Tuolumne, Stanislaus and San Joaquin Rivers is scheduled for virtual release Labor Day weekend 2020. In this probing film, Modesto Irrigation District (MID) along with Final Cut Media examine the rivers that have transformed the San Joaquin Valley, helped create cities and nourish the world.  Through interviews with more than two dozen scientists, elected leaders, appointed officials, water managers, conservationists and farmers, the filmmakers explored the controversy over how much water should remain in the rivers for environmental uses and how much should be shared with the 2.6 million people who drink it and the farmers who use it for growing food.  “If you’re going to say something important about water in California,” said Prof. Jay Lund of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, “you have to expect that not everyone is going to be happy with it.” … ”

Click here to continue reading this press release.

Writer-producer Mike Dunbar and Final Cut Media’s lead cinematographer Marco Sanchez found Lund’s words true. But they also found an incredible dedication to getting things right on the rivers – from scientists, conservationists, farmers and water managers.

Dunbar, Sanchez and the team at Final Cut Media traveled throughout the Northern San Joaquin Valley, into the heights of the Sierra, scientists’ laboratories and skyscrapers overlooking San Francisco.

“What we found,” said Dunbar, “were fiercely dedicated people who wanted to protect what is important to them. But not one of them was willing to ruin the rivers, or give up eating, just to get their way. There are real opportunities for solutions, and people are looking for them. Especially the people closest to the rivers, the people who live here.”

MID partnered with Dunbar, Sanchez and the Final Cut Media team to help breakdown the complex issues and create a visually compelling narrative.

“Our vision in development of this film was to amplify the voices of those involved and affected by critical California water discussions and decisions – decisions that will have effects far beyond Modesto and the San Joaquin Valley,” said MID Board President Paul Campbell.

Dunbar began writing about California’s water issues during a 30-year career with The Modesto Bee. In transitioning to documentary filmmaking, he found a more in-depth way of telling similar stories.

Sanchez, a decorated veteran of the Iraq conflict, wasn’t sure what he would find as he delved into the Valley’s water wars. So, the accomplished videographer concentrated on managing film crews using two or three stationary cameras, light reflectors, mobile sound equipment and even drones to film in more than two dozen locations.

Modesto-based Final Cut Media has been developing content for broadcast, online, and theatrical release for over 20 years. Their credits include work with dozens of local and state agencies to tell the unique stories that impact our valley. “Until the Last Drop” is the next chapter in their ongoing work.

“Telling these stories is important to helping those beyond the Central Valley understand the unique challenges we face,” stated Mike Daniel, documentary producer and CEO at Final Cut Media. “This documentary shines light on our most important resource and showcases the tireless work of many to keep our water flowing, our rivers thriving and food growing.”

“Until the Last Drop” will be available for download or streaming at www.untilthelastdrop.com beginning Saturday, September 5.

Foster Farms accused of wasting water to kill chickens in drought-prone California

Accusing California’s largest poultry plant of draining and spoiling an already drought-riddled aquifer, a Central Valley animal rights group is suing Foster Farms for wasting water during its chicken slaughtering process.  With California once again careening toward drought, the Animal Legal Defense Fund wants a state judge to order Foster Farms to cut back on the amount of groundwater it uses at its Merced County chicken processing plant. In an environmental lawsuit filed Wednesday, the defense fund says Foster Farms could slash its exorbitant water usage by adopting more “humane” slaughtering techniques. … ”  Read more from Courthouse News here: Foster Farms accused of wasting water to kill chickens in drought-prone California

Online portal offers information on water bodies with harmful algal blooms throughout California

State officials have updated an online interactive map with information about waterways and waterbodies that have advisories due to harmful algal blooms.  The Water Boards, aided by partner organizations, gathered water samples at many popular lakes and streams with a history of harmful algal blooms throughout California as part of an ongoing collaborative effort to share information with the public.  The Water Boards have ramped up testing for the harmful blooms in advance of the Labor Day weekend and posted information about water bodies that have advisories on a harmful algal bloom portal. The portal offers information on which tested waterways offer safe recreation options and which ones require caution. …

Click here to continue reading this press release from the State Water Board.

The results of targeted sampling for more than 80 lakes and rivers are summarized in an interactive map showing which sites were tested at each waterbody. The map indicates the specific tiered recreational health advisory level – “Caution,” “Warning” or “Danger” – based on cyanotoxin testing results and/or visual indicators confirming presence of a harmful algal bloom. 

Approximately 75% of the lakes and rivers are associated with a recommended advisory. More information can be accessed at a frequently asked questions page on the portal.  Harmful algal blooms can be identified, typically, by their green, streaky appearance in water, but sometimes can appear as other colors. The blooms contain cyanotoxins that can trigger health concerns for people, including irritation to the respiratory system, skin, eye, and throat discomfort, vomiting, and gastrointestinal distress.

Health concerns in animals, particularly dogs, includes vomiting, difficulty breathing, seizures, and sometimes death. Dogs and children are particularly vulnerable because they are more likely to swallow water when swimming or playing.

This is the fourth consecutive year of heightened testing prior to Labor Day. The Water Boards, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and California Department of Public Health, along with water managers and county and state health officials, are coordinating efforts to investigate reported cases of health impacts linked to freshwater algal blooms.

California Water Justice and Tribal Advocates announce week of action

The organizers of the Advocacy and Water Protection in Native California Speakers Series are hosting a new webinar series aimed at taking action against environmental racism and for water justice in California. Humboldt State University Native American Studies and Save California Salmon are organizing the “Mobilizing for Water Justice in California” Webinar Series on Sept. 14-18 at 3:30 p.m.  The series will focus on taking action for issues related to water diversions and dams on Native lands, water privatization, environmental racism and access to clean water. Webinars will be an hour long and will include an overview of a water injustice and an opportunity to take action. … ”  Read more from the Willits News here:  California Water Justice and Tribal Advocates announce week of action

California wildfires …

Boulder Creek water problems highlight growing California wildfire threat

Drivers entering town these days pass a sign with an urgent message: Do not drink or boil the tap water in your home. It may not be safe.  This town in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains is the latest California community to grapple with water problems because of a wildfire. The phenomenon is a recent one, and Boulder Creek’s entry to the group suggests other places may eventually find themselves in a similar position.  For now, local and state officials are still trying to figure out if the CZU Lightning Complex fires contaminated any of the water supply. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Boulder Creek water problems highlight growing California wildfire threat

California continues to burn

August 2020 brought a “lightning siege” in California that sparked a rash of wildfires across the state. By early September, nearly 14,000 lightning strikes had ignited 900 fires that have burned more than 1.5 million acres.  More than a quarter million of those acres burned within the August Complex, a fire located northwest of Willows, California, in Mendocino National Forest and adjacent areas. Smoke still streamed from the complex on September 1, when the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired these images. The first image is natural color and shows smoke blanketing numerous communities in Mendocino County.  The image pair below shows detailed views of the fire’s northern extent, where strong winds on August 31 caused fire activity to pick up. … ”  Read more from NASA’s Earth Observatory here:  California continues to burn

Union Pacific water train fights California wildfires

As wildfires roar across Northern California, a team of Union Pacific Engineering employees are on the front lines, battling hot spots along the railroad’s tracks, bridges and tunnels.  Their equipment of choice? A water train consisting of two rail cars, each holding 12,500 gallons of water and a pumper. The train goes back and forth over a 7-mile stretch, traversing up to 50 miles daily.  The crew has been out in force recently on UP’s Canyon Subdivision near Quincy, California. … ”  Read more from Inside Track here:  Union Pacific water train fights California wildfires

Western wildfire season lengthens with climate change

The wildfire season in the Western U.S. is nearly three months longer than it was in the 1980s. That’s due to the warmer temperatures, drought conditions, and earlier spring snowmelt brought on by climate change. Tzeidle Wasserman, a forest ecologist at Northern Arizona University, says, “That means we’re seeing a lot more wildfires, we’re seeing them earlier in the season, and they’re burning a lot more of the landscape.” … ”  Read more from KNAU here: Western wildfire season lengthens with climate change

California and Australia look to Indigenous land management for fire help

An official report issued by the New South Wales government explains how Indigenous land practices can improve fire management in the wake of the deadly bushfires.  As some of the most damaging wildfires in recent memory have raged through California, in the United States, this cultural burning knowledge is becoming more relevant than ever, said Don Hankins, a Plains Miwok fire expert at Chico State University in California.  Today, officials in both the United States and Australia are increasingly turning to Indigenous land management practices to help control wildfires. … ”  Read more from PRI here:  California and Australia look to Indigenous land management for fire help 

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In commentary today …

New approach needed to protect health of California’s rivers, says Ted Grantham and Jeffrey Mount

They write, “Dams, diversions, and land conversion have substantially altered California’s rivers and disrupted the processes that sustain ecosystem health. The result is a crisis for native fish and wildlife and the loss of many benefits we derive from river ecosystems.   Of the state’s more than 125 native fishes, seven species are already extinct and 100 are in decline, including half of California’s salmon and steelhead species. In the face of the changing climate, biodiversity loss and continuing conflict over water, California urgently needs to rethink how it manages water for the environment. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  New approach needed to protect health of California’s rivers, says Ted Grantham and Jeffrey Mount

Can Valley farms be sustainable water users? People worldwide depend on the answer, says Jenny Toste

Jenny Toste writes,” ... I live in the closest thing to Eden we have on Earth. Over 300 crops are grown in Fresno County, and my own backyard bursts with cherries, berries, melons and figs, grapes and nuts, every type of peach and plum possible, and yes, even honey.  We are in danger of losing this farming paradise, however, and right when the world is trying to figure out how we’ll feed 10 billion people in 2050. We’ll need more farm land to be able to do that, but a new state regulation is threatening to fallow up to 1 million acres in the Valley. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Can Valley farms be sustainable water users? People worldwide depend on the answer

Elizabeth Shipley and Ted Kowalski: Why Intel, Cox and others are paying the Colorado River Indian Tribes not to use water

They write, “While the COVID-19 pandemic has substantially disrupted our lives, it hasn’t affected the urgent need for Arizona to protect our shared water sources. The good news is that Arizona has a long history of compromise and collaboration when it comes to managing our water.  Just last spring, Arizona entered into the largest voluntary water conservation agreement in the world — partnering with the other states of the Colorado River basin, as well as the federal governments of the United States and Mexico. That agreement – known as the Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) – is a groundbreaking step forward for water conservation, and it would not have happened without business leaders coming together at a critical moment. … ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  Why Intel, Cox and others are paying the Colorado River Indian Tribes not to use water

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Putting Science to Action: California/Nevada Tahoe Science Advisory Council elevates efforts to protect and restore Lake Tahoe

Nevada and California joined forces last week at the 24th annual Lake Tahoe Summit to advance the states’ shared priorities to protect and restore Lake Tahoe. The challenges in Lake Tahoe continue to change and grow every day. The combined pressures of climate change, population growth, and increased visitation have severely strained the Tahoe basin’s transportation infrastructure system, undermining the health of the Lake and surrounding forests, and impacting the overall visitor experience at trailheads and beaches throughout the Lake during all times of the year.  There is a long history of collaboration between Nevada and California to restore and protect the spectacular natural treasure of Lake Tahoe and its surrounding environment. This spirit of collaboration was a pillar of the 24th annual Lake Tahoe Summit convened this summer by U.S. Senator Cortez-Masto which focused on creating and sustaining a “Resilient Tahoe.” A critical underpinning to achieving resiliency for Lake Tahoe is the advancement of locally-based scientific research to help inform the policy actions necessary to protect the health of the Lake and its surrounding forest ecosystem. … ”

Click here to continue reading this press release from the Natural Resouces Agency.

As such, during its annual meeting, the Lake Tahoe Science Advisory Council (Council) Executive Committee co-chaired by leaders from Nevada and California convened to identify basin-specific science and research needs necessary to preserve and protect the basin through forward-looking, science-driven policy solutions. Through the Council, research institutions in California and Nevada work hand-in-hand with land managers, residents and stakeholders to address current and emerging challenges head-on, ensuring key policies and management decisions on both sides of the lake are grounded in the best available science. 

As part of its “science-action” partnership approach, the Council Executive Committee convened on Friday to discuss new developments, program updates, and the most recent work plans to help guide future policies in the Lake Tahoe basin. Highlights from the meeting include: 

  • Sustainable recreation and transportation – The Council will be conducting research regarding travel patterns within the basin, as well as new research regarding recreational conditions. The work will be used to inform an integrated transportation system to meet the unique needs of the basin and to develop appropriate metrics to inform recreational management decisions in the face of increasing recreational pressures.
  • Lake Clarity – Overall lake clarity has stabilized and is improving slightly during the winter months, but is declining more rapidly during the summer months. The Council completed research to determine the reasons for the differences in summer and winter clarity to help shape future policy and project decisions regarding stormwater and watershed management.  
  • Development of an “Upland Ecosystem Science to Action Plan” – The Council is working with key basin stakeholders  to better understand the linkages between land and water-based ecosystems, biological diversity, and the impacts of climate change on overall health of the lake and the surrounding forest ecosystem. 

The work of the Council supports the priority areas outlined by the leadership of the Nevada and California Natural Resource Agencies at the Tahoe Summit. These priority areas are 1) Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience; 2) Transportation; 3) Sustainable Recreation and Equitable Public Access; and 4) Science Informing Policy and Management.  

“Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful and unique natural landscapes in the world,” said Bradley Crowell, Director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “Together, with our partners on both sides of the lake, we remain steadfast in our commitment to protect Lake Tahoe for all visitors and residents to enjoy for generations to come. While the impacts of climate change can already be seen and felt throughout the basin, it is not too late to protect and restore the ecological health and natural beauty of the lake. Through the newly established Nevada Climate Initiative, we will help elevate Nevada’s commitment to collaboration and innovation to ensure a vibrant, sustainable, climate-resilient future for Lake Tahoe and beyond.” 

“Lake Tahoe is facing new challenges,” said Wade Crowfoot, Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency. “The strong partnership between resource managers and the Council offers a unique opportunity to guide policy with targeted research and monitoring. Using science, the Lake Tahoe region can continue to demonstrate how we can respond to changing conditions, restore our watersheds, and ensure Lake Tahoe remains the jewel of the Sierra. Like Nevada, the State of California is steadfast in its commitment to ongoing collaboration to protect this precious resource.”  

The bi-state Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), representing the 50-year-old partnership between Nevada and California, is tasked with uniting the best available science with collaborative policy-making to implement new protections for Tahoe’s sensitive ecosystem in the face of today’s challenges. 

“The bi-state compact has endured for 50 years with best science at the root of Lake Tahoe’s protection,” TRPA Executive Director Joanne S. Marchetta said. “With sound science to inform policy and management, we will surmount ongoing challenges and guide Lake Tahoe toward greater resilience against the emerging threats of climate change, recreation and visitation pressures, and wildfire risk.” 

The Council announced a new co-chair Dr. Ramon Naranjo, Research Hydrologist from the U.S. Geological Survey in Carson City, Nevada. Dr. Naranjo will join Dr. Geoffrey Schladow. Director of the Tahoe Environmental research Center, University of California, Davis to lead the Council.   

Both Crowell and Crowfoot would like to recognize Dr. Alan Heyvaert, who has served as co-founding Chair of the Council since 2015. Dr. Heyvaert concluded a five-year term as the Council’s co-chair in August 2020.  His dedication, leadership and myriad of contributions over the years have been instrumental to protecting and enhancing the Lake Tahoe basin.

Pandemic forces closures, job cuts, shifted science for Bay Area conservation groups

Since 2004, Point Blue Conservation Science and scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have sent a research boat off the coast of Northern California about three times a year to track the health of the marine ecosystem. The researchers monitor bird and mammal life, water temperatures, and krill and plankton abundance, among other indicators of ocean health. This year, however, there will be a noticeable blip in the data; the last ACCESS (Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies) “cruise” was in September 2019. Just as the weather was improving for 2020’s first trip, the Covid-19 pandemic reached California’s shores, and researchers had to scrap the trips for fear of unwittingly contributing to the virus’s spread. … ”  Read more from Bay Nature here:  Pandemic forces closures, job cuts, shifted science for Bay Area conservation groups

Yucaipa utilizes grants to help pay for low water crossing projects

Director of Development Services/City Engineer Fermin Preciado updated Yucaipa City Council on Aug. 24, regarding the conservation services agreement and inspection services for the Fremont Street low water crossing project. The project is located north of Oak Glen Road on Fremont Street and this mostly grant funded agreement will support the habitat mitigation and monitoring plan for the next five to 10 years.  “On Nov. 14, 2018, the city council ordered that the construction contract be awarded to KEC Engineering for the construction of the bridge at Fremont Street. The construction was completed a year later in 2019,” said Preciado. ... ”  Read more from the Yucaipa News-Mirror here: Yucaipa utilizes grants to help pay for low water crossing projects

Fighting to inhale — A community case at the Salton Sea

Juan De Lara Sr. writes, “On a hot summer day a decade ago, driving along the scorching hot asphalt of a busy Highway 86, with dreams of becoming the first generation in her family to achieve a college degree, Michelle Dugan-Delgado got a call that would change her life forever — her sister, Marie, had died following an asthma attack.  Her story is one of the countless narratives that have become tragically commonplace in the communities surrounding the largest body of water in California, and ingrained part of their own folklore. Here in this region many children walk to school carrying rescue inhalers to ease the asthma symptoms when they happen — and lately are happening with more frequency. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: Fighting to inhale — A community case at the Salton Sea

San Diego County Water Authority Seeks Rate Relief at MWD

With the recession and the COVID-19 pandemic causing economic havoc nationally and across Southern California, the San Diego County Water Authority has adopted several cost-cutting strategies to reduce rate increases and it’s asking the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to do the same.  When the Water Authority’s Board of Directors approved its 2021 rates in June, it limited rate increases to 4.8-4.9% – and more than 60% of that rate increase is directly attributable to MWD. The Water Authority Board also directed staff to return this fall with any other cost savings, specifically, any pass-through savings from MWD.  So far, MWD’s Board has directed agency staff to look for cost-cutting measures – but MWD staff is proposing not to offer further rate relief.  ...

Click here to continue reading this press release from the San Diego County Water Authority.

Even though MWD is proposing to initiate cost-containment efforts to save $11.7 million in FY2021 (less than 0.6% of its budget), MWD’s September rate review memo recommends not to incorporate the savings into its budget and not to offer rate relief because it found member agencies “have not experienced significant [financial] impacts attributable to COVID-19.”

In reality, San Diego County and the nation continue to face a recession and double-digit unemployment, and many water agencies across Southern California are facing financial pressure due to unpaid bills by residents and their own efforts to provide rate relief.

In response to those unprecedented pressures, the Water Authority froze hiring, limited travel and training, and delayed equipment replacement, among other efforts.

“The Water Authority Board believes that it is important for all water suppliers, including MWD, to be recognized as part of the solution for Southern California ratepayers during this difficult time,” said Jim Madaffer, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “MWD has an opportunity to help millions of ratepayers by tightening its belt like the Water Authority and numerous other water agencies have already done.”

Madaffer wrote a letter to MWD’s Board chair this week encouraging the nation’s largest water agency to take additional cost-saving steps. One way MWD could benefit all member agencies would be to reduce its water transportation rates by $15 per acre-foot. This would trim MWD’s budget by about 1.3% and provide $24 million in savings to Southern California water agencies.

However, Madaffer said the Water Authority is open to other ways that MWD can cut costs and reduce rate increases.

“We want to be clear that it also is not our intention to impede in any way MWD’s ability to provide a safe and reliable water supply to its member agencies – to the contrary, we believe these cost savings may be achieved without having any material impact on service,” Madaffer said.

To read Madaffer’s letter and submit a letter of support for rate relief to MWD, go to www.sdcwa.org/support-rate-relief-mwd.

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In national water news today …

EPA sued over failure to regulate perchlorate in drinking water

The Natural Resources Defense Council sued the EPA in the D.C. Circuit Thursday for failing to set drinking water standards for perchlorate, a rocket fuel chemical.  The advocacy group petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision (RIN: 2040-AF28) on perchlorate, announced in June and published in July. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here: EPA sued over failure to regulate perchlorate in drinking water

Democrats say new EPA office requires congressional approval

Two Democratic lawmakers are raising concerns about a recent move by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create a Colorado office that deals with issues relating to Western lands such as waste cleanup from mining.  Rep. Betty McCollum (Minn.) and Sen. Tom Udall (N.M.) said in a letter to the agency Wednesday that the establishment of the new office would need to first be reviewed by the House and Senate Appropriations committees.  “The Further Consolidated Appropriations Act … requires the advance approval by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees prior to the implementation of any Agency reorganizations or reprogrammings of funds,” the lawmakers wrote. … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Democrats say new EPA office requires congressional approval

EPA chief vows less emphasis on climate change if Trump re-elected

Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler on Thursday defended the Trump administration’s record on protecting the nation’s air and water and said a second term would bring a greater focus on pollution cleanups in disadvantaged communities and less emphasis on climate change.  In a speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the EPA’s founding, Wheeler said the agency was moving back toward an approach that had long promoted economic growth as well as a healthy environment and drawn bipartisan support. … ”  Read more from WQAD here: EPA chief vows less emphasis on climate change if Trump re-elected

USDA updates conservation provisions for highly erodible land and wetlands

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its final rule on determining whether land is considered highly erodible or a wetland, integrating input from the public and making updates in accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill. This final rule follows a focused effort by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to improve consistency and use of science in making determinations.  “Feedback is a very important resource, and we appreciate all of those who help us improve how determinations are made,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS California’s State Conservationist. “Highly erodible land and wetland determinations are the gateway to USDA programs, and we strive to provide the highest quality technical assistance to inform decision-making by farmers and ranchers,” he continued. …

Click here to continue reading this press release.

To be eligible for most USDA programs, producers must be conservation compliant with the highly erodible land and wetland provisions. These provisions aim to reduce soil loss on erosion-prone lands and to protect wetlands for the multiple benefits they provide.

The final rule was made available for public inspection today, and it will be published tomorrow in the Federal Register. This follows an interim final rule published Dec. 7, 2018. This final rule confirms most of the changes made by the December 2018 interim final rule and makes these additional updates:

1. Adding the requirement of the 2018 Farm Bill that USDA will make a reasonable effort to include the affected person in an on-site investigation conducted prior to making a wetland violation technical determination.

2. Further clarifying how wetland hydrology is identified for farmed wetlands and farmed wetland pasture.

3. Adding clarification to the consideration of best-drained condition for wetland hydrology in keeping with the definition of prior converted cropland.

4. Relocating the provision that wetland determinations can be done on a tract, field, or sub-field basis in order to improve clarity.

NRCS has recently updated its conservation compliance webpages, adding highly erodible land and wetland determination resources for agricultural producers by state. Learn more about conservation compliance on the NRCS website.

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And lastly …

Climate and mortgages

It’s a bit off topic, so I’ll put this here.  An interesting juxtaposition with these two stories:

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT: Processes for considering critical habitat exclusions under the Endangered Species Act

DELTA eNEWS: ~~ Traffic Advisory~ Preparedness Month~ Free Fishing~ Zooplankton Symposium ~~

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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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