The rapidly moving Kincade fire destroyed the historic Soda Rock winery near Healdsburg in Northern California and "had Sonoma County wine country under siege," the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday. "Structures in the famed wine country were burning, including some owned by wineries in the Alexander Valley." Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency as fires burned thousands of acres throughout the state.
Three weeks remain in the lame-duck session and farm bill negotiators are at odds over the forestry title of the farm bill despite hopes of enacting the bill this year. Vermont Sen. Pat Leahy puts the blame on the Trump administration and House Republicans for seeking "extremely partisan provisions on behalf of a small minority in the timber industry."
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, in a press briefing Tuesday on California’s raging forest fires, called for more management of federal forest lands to be shifted to local authorities, arguing that this would help prevent fires.
Forest Service chief Vicki Christiansen, who took office on Thursday after six months as interim chief, said the USDA agency would spend $2.6 billion on fire suppression “for this historic fire season,” roughly the same as in 2017.
Nearly 11 months after Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast of Texas, the USDA said it will pay up to $900,000 in disaster relief to producers who suffered losses due to hurricanes or wildfires last year.
After a record-setting fire season in 2017, this year “is showing all signs of another historic year,” said interim Forest Service chief Vicki Christiansen on Thursday. “I will say above normal is our new normal.”
Cattle producers in Oklahoma lost $26 million in stock, fencing, and facilities to wildfires during April, estimated Derrell Peel, a livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University.
Research by UC-Davis says that half of California’s vegetation is at risk of dying from global warming by the end of the century, reported Capital Public Radio.
There is a higher than usual risk of wildfire through April in the central and southern Plains, said Kansas State University scientists and the National Interagency Coordination Center, which studies wildfire risks.
The House passed an $81-billion disaster relief bill that includes $3.8 billion for farmers and ranchers, with Florida expected to get a large share of that money, said The Hill newspaper.