Nutria, invasive and elusive rodents that weigh up to 20 pounds and were once thought to be eradicated from California, have made a comeback and are posing a threat to agriculture, according to FERN's latest story with KQED's The California Report. Lisa Morehouse and Angela Johnston report that a few of the rodents were first spotted last year in Merced, but are spreading. (No paywall)
The board of the largely agricutlural Westlands Water District voted 7-1 against taking part in Gov. Jerry Brown's twin-tunnel project "to remake the fragile estuary that serves as the hub of California's water delivery network," reports the Sacramento Bee. The decision, by the first water agency to vote on the project, is "a potentially fatal blow" to the $17-billion project.
Casting herself as a centrist, North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp announced she is running for a second term in the Senate, potentially an uphill race in a state won by landslide margins by President Trump last November. Heitkamp told the Fargo Forum that she believes there is an opportunity …
The four-year drought in California has heightened attention to a long-running problem for irrigated agriculture in the Central Valley: the salt that accumulates in the soil over the years from the crop-sustaining water, says Environmental Health News. Options range from draining away briny subsoil water to retiring land altogether because crops can no longer grow on it.
In today’s uncertain climate for immigrants, undocumented workers in the farm communities of California’s Central Valley are terrified of what may come next, says Jesus Martinez of the immigrant rights group, CIVIC. “There’s a generalized fear about how the anti-immigrant policies can impact them, to the extent that even permanent residents are fearful about how their status might be revoked without any justification,” Martinez told FERN’s Ag Insider.
More than 900 people packed a Modesto hearing, "most of them determined to stop the state's plan" to roughly double the flow on the lower Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers from February to June each year, says the Modesto Bee. "Farmers and wataer managers said the plan would put people out of work while doing little for fish."
The race between Republican David Valadao, a second-term Republican, and Democrat Emilio Huerta for a U.S. House seat in the Central Valley of California is becoming more competitive, says the political handicapper Sabato's Crystal Ball. Valadao serves on the House Appropriations subcommittee in charge of the USDA and FDA budgets and is a target for defeat by the food movement.
"A parade of Pacific storms will march on through the weekend," says the Weather Channel, concluding one of the wettest Octobers on record in the Pacific Northwest and bringing additional relief to parts of drought-hit California. The heaviest rainfall is expected in Northern California and southwestern Oregon, with some rainfall in Los Angeles.
On paper, Republican Rep. David Valadao should be at a disadvantage, running for re-election in a U.S. House district that is 57 percent Latino and where Democrats have a 17-point advantage in voter registration. Yet, in the Central Valley of California, "the nation's most productive agricultural region, the drought drives everything," says the Los Angeles Times.