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environment

National Park Service

 

And now it’s time for the weekend. We’re taking you on an armchair listening tour of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.  Scientists, park rangers and others have recorded 265 sounds in the park that are now accessible to the public on the national parks website. It’s called the Soundscape Library and it offers interactive maps, photos and information along with recorded sound from the foothills all the way up to the alpine peaks. 

 

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

When California adopted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014, it became the last Western state to regulate its groundwater. If local groundwater agencies fail to submit plans to the state by 2020, the law says state water agencies could take over management of groundwater, a resource that’s critically important to Valley agriculture.

Alice Daniel /

Neighborhood Industries is a social enterprise. It takes a market-driven approach to business coupled with a non-profit mission to care for the environment and help people in need.

It all starts with too much stuff. The company will pick up your used clothes, stained T-shirts, old rags, ripped jeans, electronics, broken vacuum cleaners, and even random wires.  

“We have routes that service Fresno specifically. But we also service about 320, 330 donation bins between Bakersfield and Sacramento,” says CEO Anthony Armor.

Flickr user Jeff Turner, CC BY 2.0

You know how newer cars are rated to drive a certain number of miles per gallon of fuel? That number is regulated by the federal government. Since 1978, the U.S. has required that cars achieve steadily better fuel economy. Earlier this year, however, the Trump Administration announced a new rule that would revoke some fuel economy standards set by the Obama administration. And a recent hearing in Fresno showed just how contentious the rule is.

San Joaquin River Restoration Program

California is often at odds with the Trump administration, and the latest battleground could be in the issue of managing the state's precious water supply. At the same time the state's water board is considering major cuts to water sent to farms and cities, the Trump administration is taking its own actions. Last week the Trump administration served notice that it wants to renegotiate a 32-year-old agreement that governs how the state and federal projects operate and cooperate.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Mount Whitney is the tallest peak in the lower 48 states. But at over 14,000 feet, hiking the mountain is anything but routine, especially in early summer. In a new piece on the website Outdoor Online, journalist Megan Michelson writes about her own close call on the mountain thanks to climbers who were unprepared. She also talks about a growing culture of selfie-induced "summit fever" which she says is making it unsafe for others on the mountain.

Greg Ballmer

In a small section of Kern County, outside the city of Bakersfield, a dirt ridge rises above the farmland. It’s home to a couple of cell towers, an orchard, and a creature that we didn’t know was there up until the last 25 years. In fact, it's by chance that this animal is no longer flying under scientists’ radar.

The first scientist to identify it was Greg Ballmer, a retired entomologist.

In 1997, Ballmer was driving down Highway 99, just south of Bakersfield,

A new podcast from Capital Public Radio reporter Ezra David Romero is digging into stories about Yosemite National Park. Called Yosemiteland, the limited-run series explores everything from commercialization to climate change. A new episode also deals with how the park is dealing with wildfire. That's of special concern now as most of the park is closed to the public due to impacts from the Ferguson Fire.

State Department of Water Resources

For years, farmers in the southern San Joaquin Valley have been struggling with reduced water deliveries. The problem – as they see it – has been reduced pumping out of the Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta, restrictions in place to help the fragile ecosystem there recover. But species in the Delta and the rivers that feed it are still declining.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Last week the Trump Administration proposed a set of major changes to the Endangered Species Act. It’s a big issue here in California, where protected species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and in the Sierra have set off new efforts to protect critical habitat. Of course those measures have also proven to be controversial in many areas.

Christina Lopez / Vall

The Arvin City Council is scheduled to vote on a new oil and gas ordinance tonight finalizing the decision whether the city adopts new regulations making it more challenging for oil and gas companies to operate near the city’s schools, parks, and neighborhoods. Reporter Christina Lopez has more details on the future of the oil and gas industry in Arvin.

The city of Arvin is embraced by its residents as the “garden in the sun” -- but today that garden is surrounded by at least a dozen active oil and gas wells currently drilling near schools, parks, and homes.

Marc Benjamin

If you’ve been to Disneyland, Cambria, many parts of Los Angeles, then you most likely had a swig of highly treated recycled water. Recycled water meaning, yes, it was once in a sewage treatment plant.


For many years this recycled water has helped Orange County meet the needs of its growing population and reduce the toll on its declining aquifers. Soon, the same kind of water may be coming to Clovis and Fresno’s drinking water.
 

Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

Buried in California’s new $201 billion budget is important news for those with a disease that affects many here in Central California: $8 million in funding for valley fever research and awareness. For several years we’ve been reporting about this airborne fungal disease which is endemic to arid regions of the U.S. Southwest.  To learn more about what the new funding means and where it's going, and to get an update on the latest data on infections in 2018, we spoke to Valley Public Radio's Kerry Klein on Valley Edition. 

Flickr user Anna Irene (Creative Commons)

Mono Lake is one of the jewels of the Eastern Sierra. Its saline waters have created a unique ecosystem, providing habitat for everything from brine shrimp to migratory birds. But for years Mono Lake has had a problem – water diversions made by the City of Los Angeles. They reduced the level of the lake, harming both the ecosystem and creating massive dust clouds. In the mid-1990’s a deal was reached that both the LA Department of Water and Power and conservationists hoped would save the lake, and increase water levels by reducing the diversions.

Ezra David Romero

This year a handful of farmers in the San Joaquin Valley have new crop. But it's not something you'll find at your weekend farmer's market. Instead it's carbon. A new program funded by the state's cap-and-trade initative aims to help farmers add cover crops to their fields, with the idea that more carbon will be stored in the soil in the form of organic matter. It's part of the state's effort to fight climate change.

Kerry Klein / Julia Lyu Mears

The United States' recycling industry is facing a growing crisis. China earlier this year announced policy changes that restrict its imports of the U.S.’s recyclables—changes with tremendous implications, since a third of the U.S.’s recycling exports have historically gone to China. We explored those policy changes in May, speaking with recycling companies and policy experts about what’s changed, and how to find new markets for all that plastic and paper we can no longer ship overseas.

Forbes.com

Archie "Red" Emmerson is not a household name in California, but perhaps he should be. He's one of the most powerful forces in the Sierra, and one of the largest private landowners in the U.S. With his company Sierra Pacific Industries, he’s built a billion-dollar logging empire that has grown even more successful thanks to being aggressive in the field of logging trees in the wake of recent wildfires, like the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

The trade conflict between the U.S. and China is heating up, and while tariffs on the steel and agriculture industries have taken center stage, the conflict has quietly moved into another less visible sector: It’s greatly disrupted the recycling industry. These new policies are already affecting businesses, but over time they could impact residents and city governments and even undermine state environmental policy.

Central Sierra Historical Society

In recent years, the forests of the Central Sierra have changed dramatically. Drought, bark beetles and climate change have helped to kill millions of trees across the region, and years of fire suppression have also contributed to an unhealthy ecosystem in many areas. Now the Central Sierra Historical Society Museum at Shaver Lake has launched a new website and museum dedicated to the changing forest. We talked with retired forester John R.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Air pollution in the San Joaquin Valley has improved dramatically over the last few decades, partly thanks to a set of sweeping clean air laws passed in the early 2000s. Over the last few years, however, one major polluting practice has risen steadily. And although it’s unclear if the increase has had an impact on air quality, advocates are concerned it will if the trend continues. We report from a family farm outside Fresno on what’s being done about open agricultural burning.

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