Our behavior here in the valley feels untenable and self-destructive
EVERY Saturday in late December and January, as reports of brutal temperatures and historic snowfalls streamed in from family in Vermont, New York and even southern Louisiana, we made weekly pilgrimages to our local beer garden to enjoy craft brews and unseasonably warm afternoons.
Normal winters here in Fresno, in the heart of California’s Central Valley, bring average highs in the 50s, steady periods of rain and drizzle, and the dense, bone-chilling Tule fog that can blanket the valley for days and even weeks on end.
But not this year. Instead, early 2014 gave us cloudless skies and midday temperatures in the 70s. By the end of January, it seemed like April, with spring trees in full bloom.
We fretted over the anomalous weather, to be sure. A high-pressure system parked off the Alaskan coast had produced not just our high temperatures but also soaring levels of fine particulate matter in the air and more than 50 rainless days, worsening a three-year drought, the most severe in half a millennium. If it’s this bad in January, we wondered, what’s it going to be like in July? But then we’d return to the beer taps, or meander over to peruse food truck menus.
Life in the Central Valley revolves around two intricately related concerns: the quality of the air and the quantity of the water. Although Fresno is the state’s fifth-largest city, it is really just a sprawling farm town in the middle of the nation’s most productive agricultural region, often called “America’s fruit basket.” Surrounded by mountains, which trap the pollution created by a surging population, interstate transportation and tens of thousands of farms, the valley has noxious air, even on good days.
The political atmosphere surrounding crop irrigation is equally toxic. Some farms in the western Valley — crippled by cuts in water allocations, salt buildup in the soil and depleted aquifers — now resemble the dust bowl that drove so many Tom Joads here in the 1930s. Farmers line highways with signs insisting that “food grows where water flows,” while environmentalists counter that the agriculture industry consumes 75 percent of the water transported by California’s byzantine water system.
The Latest on: California Central Valley
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The Latest on: California Central Valley
- Three key water projects mean new supplies for San Joaquin Valley farmers | Opinionon December 10, 2023 at 5:29 am
In recent years, a series of ambitious projects spearheaded by the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority have been undertaken to restore California’s critical water infrastructure and to begin to ...
- Incredible Los Gatos rally comes up just short in wild 2-A championship loss to Central Valley Christianon December 10, 2023 at 5:07 am
Kroeze threw back-breaking third-down completions to Gunnar Piepgrass and Ryan Lewis on the drive, his 34-yard looping dime to Lewis in the corner of the endzone one that gave the Visalia team a 24-7 ...
- Los Gatos vs. Central Valley Christian: Live updates, score from California CIF State 2-A football Championshipon December 9, 2023 at 6:48 pm
The 2023 California high school football season came and went. So enjoy its last game. In the final game of five this weekend at Pasadena, Central Coast Section Division 1 champion Los Gatos takes on ...
- How a California farmer is helping build a Black-led sustainable agriculture revolutionon December 8, 2023 at 10:49 pm
Hutson moved to Allensworth in July of 2017 — right after the 2012-2016 drought, one of the most severe in California's history. San Joaquin Valley, a stretch of eight counties in central and southern ...
- Central Valley to receive $3B for High-Speed Rail Projecton December 8, 2023 at 5:28 pm
The Central Valley will receive about $3 billion out of the $8.2 billion approved for 10 rail projects across the United States, officials announced on Friday. Officials say $6 billion will go towards ...
- California Gov. Gavin Newsom advances water tunnel project amid opposition from environmental groupson December 8, 2023 at 3:13 pm
A long-sought and disputed project in drought-prone California aimed at capturing more water during heavy rain storms reached a key milestone on Friday when Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration finished ...
- Huge opportunity awaits Central Valley Christian, Mission Oak and Strathmore this weekendon December 8, 2023 at 11:26 am
It is a big weekend for the Central Valley Christian, Mission Oak and the Strathmore high school football teams. All three teams will bus to Southern California in hopes of winning the California ...
- Congressman Jim Costa Says Federally Funded Farm Food Future (F3) Initiative Is Fueling Innovation and Job Growth in the California Central Valleyon December 8, 2023 at 5:31 am
Congressman Jim Costa Says Federally Funded Farm Food Future (F3) Initiative Is Fueling Innovation and Job Growth in the California Central Valley ...
- In California’s San Joaquin Valley, the future of farming is in techon December 7, 2023 at 5:30 pm
New technologies were displayed at Fresno State to mark the first year of an initiative between educational institutions and community groups across the San Joaquin Valley.
- California forces migrant farmworker students to move every year. ‘We need to survive’on December 7, 2023 at 5:00 am
California has 72,257 migrant students, who are eligible to participate in the federal Migrant Education Program, more than any other state in the country.
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