Conservation

Forest Service spends a record $243M last week on wildfires

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service spent a record $243 million last week battling forest fires around the country, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Thursday.

The agency has spent all the money Congress provided for fighting wildfires in the 12-month budget period, forcing it to borrow money from forest restoration work designed to reduce the risk of fires. That's happened in six of the past 10 years, Vilsack said.

Pacific bluefin tuna group puts off new moves to save fish

TOKYO (AP) — An international body that monitors fisheries in most of the Pacific Ocean ended a meeting in Japan on Thursday without agreement on fresh measures to protect the dwindling bluefin tuna.

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission was unable to get a consensus on either short-term or long-term measures to help restore the bluefin population, whose numbers are estimated to have fallen 96 percent from unfished levels.

California communities charge ahead with new housing despite drought

Source: 
The New York Times

Despite California's ongoing drought, communities across the state are forging ahead with new housing development plans, contending that there will be adequate water supplies to meet demand, The New York Times reports.

Records: California plans taking land for huge water tunnels

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — State contractors have readied plans to acquire as many as 300 farms in the California delta by eminent domain to make room for a pair of massive, still-unapproved water tunnels proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, according to documents obtained by opponents of the tunnels.

Farmers whose parcels were listed and mapped in the 160-page property-acquisition plan expressed dismay at the advanced planning for the project, which would build 30-mile-long tunnels in the delta formed by the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers.

Officials: Less chance of Colorado River water cuts in 2017

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Wet weather in May and June brought good news Monday from federal water managers keeping close tabs on the Colorado River water supply for about 40 million residents in seven Southwest U.S. states.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation projected normal water deliveries to residents, farms, tribes and businesses at least through 2016 and possibly through 2017, water agency officials in Arizona, Nevada and California said.

GOP drought relief bill earns White House veto threat

The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto a House Republican effort to respond to a long-running drought in California and other western states by loosening environmental restrictions, saying the legislation would “impede an effective and timely response to the continuing drought.”

The Office of Management and Budget, in a Statement of Administration Policy, said the Western Water and American Food Security Act, introduced by Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., would conflict with existing laws and hinder state and federal cooperation on drought relief and undercut environmental law.

DiCaprio foundation grants $15M to environmental groups

LOS ANGELES (AP) — When it comes to saving the planet, Leonardo DiCaprio is putting his money where his mouth is.

The actor's foundation announced Tuesday it has awarded $15 million in grants to a host of environmental organizations, including Amazon Watch, Save the Elephants, Tree People and the World Wildlife Fund.

White House

'Legacy' or 'land grab'? Obama names new monuments

President Barack Obama, who had already used executive authority to protect more land than any other president, added more than a million acres across three states Friday. Supporters hailed him for “burnishing his conservation legacy” while one critic raised the specter of a federal invasion to "seize more lands like bandits in the night.”

Using his authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act, Obama designated as national monuments the Berryessa Snow Mountain in California, the Basin and Range in Nevada, and the Waco Mammoth paleontological site in Texas. The California site covers nearly 331,000 acres, and the Nevada site covers approximately 704,000 acres, the White House said.

Pope applauds ecology advocates in Rome from many religions

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Sunday encouraged people of different religions to work together in caring for the Earth, which he called our "common house."

Speaking from his window in a Vatican palazzo to tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists, Francis singled out a few hundred people who had marched to St. Peter's Square under the banner "One Earth, one family."

Amid drought, California cities crack down on water line leaks

Source: 
The New York Times

As continued drought conditions drive water restriction orders for Californians, cities are looking to crack down on underground leaks from water line infrastructure, an issue that one consultancy says costs  systems an average 10 percent of the water they carry, The New York Times reports.

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