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
- Two More Rounds of Rain, Mountain Snow Ahead for California Into This Weekendon December 2, 2019 at 10:41 am
The Pacific storm door is open and will soak California through this weekend.
- One of California’s most powerful labor unions is feuding with Gov. Gavin Newsomon December 2, 2019 at 5:13 am
“California could, and should, do better for workers and their families ... In 2015, the union paid for ads against former Central Valley Republican Rep. Jeff Denham after he advocated defunding the ...
- Cost of building homes in the Central Valley is risingon December 1, 2019 at 6:29 pm
(KFSN) -- Construction equipment lines empty lots around the Central Valley as builders get new ... And they have to pay workers more in California. "So labor costs are going up, materials costs ...
- How Racism Ripples Through Rural California’s Pipeson November 30, 2019 at 11:18 am
Bertha Mae Beavers remembers hearing stories as a child about the promises of California, a place so rich with jobs and opportunity that money, she was told, “grew on trees.” So in the summer of 1946 ...
- It’s time to secure California’s water supply by raising Shasta Damon November 29, 2019 at 5:00 am
At the request of the state of California, Congress authorized the CVP to support California’s vast economy, while also creating benefits to the diverse communities of the Central Valley. In the ...
- ‘Brown Water for Brown People’: Making Sense of California’s Drinking Water Crisison November 29, 2019 at 2:00 am
I knew nothing about that history in California, so I reached out to local historians and reread the writings of people like Mark Arax about black farmworkers in the region. The disturbing history of ...
- Humane Society Silicon Valley Awarded Petco Grant For New Rescue Truckon November 28, 2019 at 6:37 pm
The humane society in September used the $61,510 award to purchase, outfit and launch its Rescue Roadster, a Ford box truck the organization now uses to re-home homeless dogs and cats awaiting ...
- Central Valley Meat recalls ground beefon November 27, 2019 at 6:55 am
Central Valley Meat Co., of Hanford, Calif., is recalling approximately 34,222 pounds of ... 6063A” printed on the retail labels next to the lot number and inside the USDA mark of inspection on the ...
- Major winter storm moves through California, bringing rain to Valley, snow to mountainson November 26, 2019 at 11:18 pm
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Travelers have set out on the road to visit family for the Thanksgiving holiday, but an incoming storm headed toward the Central Valley could lead to risky conditions and road ...
- Central Valley Community Bancorp Appoints Dorothea Silva to Its Board of Directorson November 25, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Central Valley Community Bancorp trades on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the symbol CVCY. Central Valley Community Bank, headquartered in Fresno, California, was founded in 1979 and is the sole ...
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