Dead and Dying–California’s Central Valley Dust Bowl

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Dead and Dying–California’s Central Valley Dust Bowl

I took a drive this week from Sacramento to Los Angeles, and had an eye opening experience.  Down the entire length of the 5 freeway, we saw not the green luscious fields of produce or green orchards laden with fruit, but dusty dead and dying orchards.  Rows after row, acre after acre, miles after mile of them, perfectly formed, perfectly helpless….lifeless.

By way of explanation, these signs dotted the dusty dry roadside:  “Congress Created Dust Bowl.  Thank You Sacramento!”

My lawn is green.  My kids have plenty of water to spray in the yard, yet California’s orchards aren’t getting a drop this year despite the best rainfall in three years and five reservoirs filled to over capacity.

There’s no doubt that we’re in a drought, but why the sudden drop in water availability only for farmers?  Are the politicians in Sacramento more concerned about the plethora of city votes than the small handful of agricultural ones?  We will all be paying for Sacramento’s blunder.  The Central Valley provides up to 8% of the nation’s fresh produce.

Watching the staggering waste just made my heart ache.  We had to pull over and take pictures.  The contrast with past green was stark—it takes 30 years to build an orchard like this up to full production!  Almonds, walnuts, citrus… Why do we have green lawns while these resources are left to die?

—Beetle Blogger

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Politics and Drought In California from NPR

A few weeks ago, Ty and Janet Lompa were doing the unthinkable: cutting down 110 acres of walnut orchards. That’s roughly 10,000 trees and a third of their entire acreage.

“It takes 30 years to get ‘em here,” says Janet Lompa, “and about a minute and a half to knock ‘em down.”

Ty Lompa helped plant many of these trees with his father, and they used to water the orchard with flood irrigation from the project built by the federal government. But when water started to become an issue, “we immediately switched over to micro-irrigation,” says Lompa. “So we have absolutely no runoff.”

But the Lompas’ farm relied entirely on federal water — they have no groundwater of their own. They can keep part of their orchard alive with water they carried over from last year, but the rest can’t be saved.

“You can’t leave trees in the field and just let ‘em die,” Ty Lompa says. “You’re gonna get bugs, you’re gonna get disease, so they have to come down.”

The Lompas are furious because they blame government, not nature, for the death of their trees. And Janet Lompa tells her four children that “the politicians gave it all to the fish” when they ask why there’s no water.

Politics Takes Control

Farmers throughout this region echo the sentiment that politics, not the drought, is the problem. Most of California gets its water from a huge estuary called the Delta, where two big rivers join in the center of the valley. But so much water was being pumped out of the Delta that a tiny smelt there, an endangered species, is disappearing. So late last year, a federal judge ruled that the amount of water being delivered to the south had to be sharply cut back.

In April, in a sweltering tin shed in the middle of the Westland’s water district, about 200 farmers gathered to hear what Tom Birmingham had to say about the crisis. Birmingham is the executive director of the irrigation district. Yes, the drought is a problem, he says, but he believes the much bigger problem is that court ruling.

“Since mid-February, as a result of that biological opinion, we’ve lost approximately 300,000 acre-feet of water. It’s floated out the Golden Gate.”

That means it was given to the fish.

“The state of California has gone from 15 million people when these projects were built 50 years ago, to almost 30 million,” Gary Coehlo says. “And we haven’t added one bit of water, storage, conveyance, dams — anything. Now, the need for water has become greater, and they’re gonna dry us up,” adds Tony Coehlo.

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79 Comments

  1. Delirious said,

    June 1, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    That’s frightening

  2. beetlebabee said,

    June 1, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    It’s just SAD! I felt like crying. I’m not your typical environmentalist, but dead trees just yank my heart strings. Especially fruiting trees. What a waste! You’d think they’d squeeze the people before condemning the orchards.

  3. Yours Sincerely said,

    June 1, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Vote friends! Vote these crazies out of office!

  4. pomegranateappleblog said,

    June 1, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    i feel like crying too!

  5. mommycatz said,

    June 1, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    you’re putting yourself in the wrong category. you’re not with the environmentalists, they are the ones that created this mess, worrying about some fish and not the people who eat from those orchards. no, we’re with the farmers, who tend to always get the short end of the stick.

    this stuff makes me crazy.

  6. No Way! said,

    June 1, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    I only heard we were in a drought a few weeks ago. Why aren’t they telling us to back off the water usage? If it’s this bad, they should have told us. We could have done something! This is just insane!

  7. Katrina said,

    June 1, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Today drove from LA to Sac too, and wondered why this was happening. I told my dad it was because congress prohibited farmers to water their crops, but he didn’t believe me. What has this state come to when crops aren’t allowed to be watered? What about the farmers and farm workers? I am shocked and appalled, this is crazy! We need to recall some of these lawmakers ASAP!!!

  8. fedupgranny said,

    June 2, 2009 at 6:23 am

    We are California natives and grew up watching the crops as we made trips to Northern California to visit relatives. As adults we continued the game “guess the crop” with our children and grandchildren. This past weekend we were shocked and then heartsick as we made a trip from Redlands to San Mateo to see the fields fallow. The game we played was “Which flawed government policy caused this travesty? ” Was it Federal or State legislation? Was it bank bailouts, so that the farmers lost their land? Was it outsourcing, so that the farmers could not compete? Was it deregulation? Was it fuel costs? Was it cost of water?
    Thank you for providing an answer. Some how, some way, we the people must elect leaders who care about people. A recall costs us money we do not have. Find strong candidates that can take out the losers we have in office now, and help them become elected! Any farmers want to run?

  9. beetlebabee said,

    June 2, 2009 at 6:42 am

    We could use a few good solid people. I’d vote for a farmer! Did you notice they’re starting to plant new baby orchards on the northern half of the route? I think some are taking the gamble that the little amount of water they’re getting will be enough to keep a new orchard alive and growing until the drought is over. They’re desperately trying to keep their livelihoods. It’s just heart wrenching. 30 years they’ve been set back!

  10. Rita Danning said,

    June 2, 2009 at 7:49 am

    These pictures are worth a thousand words! I emailed the story out to my family. Have you heard about this on the news anywhere? I haven’t! What’s the big silence?

  11. Clay A. Sacramento said,

    June 2, 2009 at 8:05 am

    Perhaps someone should put HUMANS on the endangered species list, at the very least the ones with any common sense. We are regulating ourselves out of existence.

  12. chadabshier said,

    June 2, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Makes me sad, the house I grew up in is surrounded by almond orchards, and seeing these pictures… hurts.

  13. George Tiller said,

    June 2, 2009 at 9:47 am

    I read this at fox: Projections: Up to 35,000 Jobs Lost and 300,000 Acres of Farm Land Unused

    Ranking Member Doc Hastings, along with Representatives Devin Nunes, Tom McClintock, Kevin McCarthy, Ken Calvert and George Radanovich, hold a press conference to highlight the man-made California drought and policies that provide water for fish (like the three-inch smelt), but not people.

  14. George Tiller said,

    June 2, 2009 at 9:49 am

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Natural Resources Committee held a full committee hearing today on the “The California Drought: Actions by Federal and State agencies to address impacts on lands, fisheries and water users.” Witnesses, including several members of California’s Congressional delegation, testified that this is a man-made drought, resulting from Endangered Species Act regulations that have diverted much-needed water from California families on the farm to three-inch Delta Smelt fish in the bay. The man-made actions have been devastating to California’s San Joaquin Valley where it is estimated that this year alone up to 35,000 jobs will be lost and 300,000 acres of farm land won’t be used because water has been diverted.

    Ranking Member Doc Hastings (WA-04) explained, “Communities dependent on irrigated agriculture are now approaching 40% unemployment as they watched over 83 billion gallons of water – which was water normally dedicated to the fields — go out to the ocean in the last month alone. It’s important to protect lands and endangered fish, but our government’s environmental policies shouldn’t make our communities endangered in the process.”

    Republicans have offered numerous solutions to provide necessary relief to families, farmers and businesses in California’s San Joaquin Valley who are struggling to survive in the midst of a man-made drought. Solutions include passing legislation (specifically H.R. 996 and H.R. 856) to suspend the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act during times of drought emergency to ensure that the Delta pumps operate at historic capacity, encouraging the Administration to take steps to allow for water transfers and temporary barriers to keep smelt away from the pumps, and offering new water storage as a longer-term proposal to help the State in alternating times of drought and floods.

    Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-21) warned, “This Congress has stood silent for nearly two years as San Joaquin Valley residents have been starved of water. Democrat leaders need to stop hiding behind the courts and bowing down to special interests. If they do not act within the next 30 days, it’s over. We will witness the collapse of modern civilization in the San Joaquin Valley.

    Congressman Ken Calvert (CA-44) testified that there is no proof that diverting water to the ocean will actually benefit the Delta Smelt fish. “If this Committee is going to continue to give federal agencies the authority to take actions that kill jobs and harm our economy for the benefits of species, then the American people deserve clear and undeniable evidence that those actions are in fact benefiting the species.”

    Congressman George Radanovich (CA-19) noted that “the draconian regulations that turn simple fish into the worshipful gods of the environmental community and ignore the inalienable rights of people have led us to conclude that Government does not work for us any more–we need the Government to protect the safety and happiness of people, not fish.”

    Congressman Wally Herger (CA-02) stressed the need for “a sustainable, balanced and comprehensive solution to this water situation that will allow us to equitably meet the needs of all water users, human and otherwise. Continuing down the same path we have been on for decades is not acceptable.”

    Additionally, 17 members of the California Congressional delegation today sent… letter to Committee Chairman Nick Rahall and Ranking Member Hastings, requesting field hearings on the California drought in order to get “the Committee to step outside the Washington beltway and hear firsthand accounts from citizens throughout California impacted by the drought.”

  15. beetlebabee said,

    June 2, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Thanks for that article, I had no idea they’d gone up there to testify. I found a video, will be posting!

  16. June 2, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Kalifornia is a sad state indeed.

  17. Sally Morgan said,

    June 4, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Do the fish pay taxes, vote, live 80 years? Politicians work for themselves once they get a government job and the best hereafter salary heard of these days. They have no intention of doing the right thing by the people but what is best for themselves. This has only become apparent this year overwhelming yet it has existed for years. Who knows an honest, hard-working man willing to run for office against the now politicians? If you are a good guy and want to help the people you will be totally railroaded if you do get a job. Believe me folks either we stop ALL of them and do without if necessary until we can find good people or we will not get out of the mess created by the government to keep us down and forced to accept what is wrong for the majority of the people. We who do not live in SJ Valley are behind you and want to support your efforts as it is good for all of us.

  18. Traci said,

    June 10, 2009 at 11:34 am

    I took my kids for a drive from Anaheim to the bay area and all along the way I wanted to cry because so much of what was beautiful orchards and farms were gone. It was supposed to be a lesson in the importance of the farming community and instead it turned into a lesson about what happens when we waste water and when people (government people) step in and take water from those who need it to grow food. This is not acceptable.

  19. beetlebabee said,

    June 10, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I feel the same way. It’s absolutely tragic what has happened along the central valley. It makes me want to plant more fruit trees, but even then it’s only a sorry drop in the bucket. I hate feeling helpless. Such devastation in such a short amount of time.

  20. 6cats said,

    June 18, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    As a native Californian, I had the same sad reaction as many posters here when I recently drove from San Diego to Oregon via I-5. It was sickening. I think it’s important, however, not to pit farmers against environmentalists; they both share a love of the land. Instead, we need to examine our culture and political policies. Why are we still letting residents of our state build swimming pools and install hot tubs and fountains? Why are we still watering grass lawns? Why are there vast green golf courses everywhere you look? And why aren’t we collecting rain water? I live in a house that was built in the 1920s and has a cistern, so this isn’t *new* technology. And, for heaven’s sake, why aren’t we talking about population control instead of popping out more babies than ever before in our nation’s history?

    We need to get our priorities straight: we have a limited amount of space and resources. We should use water to produce food rather than isolated swimming holes for a few wealthy people or big, green courses where a privileged few can hit some golf balls. And if everyone were responsible about reproduction, we might not even be in this mess…

    Beware when politicians try to pass off the cause of their bogus policies on “the environment”; the delta smelt may seem insignificant, but it’s not really some little fish that’s turning the central valley into a dust bowl. As the signs say, it’s congress. We can’t kill off our rivers, oceans, and the wildlife that inhabit them just because we refuse to acknowledge reality. All of us need to conserve and our laws need to change to enforce conservation on those among us who won’t do so voluntarily.

  21. beetlebabee said,

    June 19, 2009 at 6:01 am

    “and our laws need to change to enforce conservation on those among us who won’t do so voluntarily.”

    I pretty much agreed with you all the way until I got to this line. I’m not sure how that would happen, but it smacks of more government misuse. If congress created this dustbowl, they’re obviously not capable of good management and giving them even more control over the water supply just seems wrong. Yes build more water projects, yes collect the rain, but more regulation? I think all they’d have to do is explain the plight of the farmers and a plan to help them by voluntarily conserving x amount of water with a specific action, and the citizens would come through in a time of need for farmers. The fact that people are covering this thing up and NOT telling what is going on, just aggravates the problem.

  22. Bob Radez said,

    June 22, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    As long as Califonians continue to elect the far left loons to political office, they will have far left looney policies like this. TERM LIMITS !

  23. Gw Outman said,

    June 29, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    I recently took a trip up the 5 from bakersfield to monterey and seen the Exact same sight it is deeply troubeling and sadening

  24. July 2, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    [...] Something that you aren’t seeing in the news is a whacked side-effect of California’s financial and environmental incompetence – the Central Valley Dust Bowl… A great article was written on this at Beetle Blogger: Dead and Dying–California’s Central Valley Dust Bowl. [...]

  25. madcreek said,

    July 3, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    A messenger tried to tell Californians what was happening in the 80’s and 90’s but was told to keep quiet and get outta town. There is a lot more to this than meets the eye and mind. Water management needs to be rethought and revamped. The plan of the past has not worked for California nor will that plan work in our future.

  26. James H. Marple said,

    July 4, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    The diversion of irrigation water to an imagined “endangered species” of fish is intended to drive more of the small farmers out of business, making their lands available to the giant agribusinesses that monopolize food production. Officials were pressured into this grossly inappropriate action with the pretense that these fish are important, even though they are no more than a mutant offshoot that developed slightly different characteristics after settlers altered the Sacramento Delta with levees.

    this criminal activity makes it appropriate to point out that California receives an average 150 million acre-feet of rainfall yearly, 30 times as much as its household-commercial-business-landscape irrigation needs. But the economic disaster we predicted two decades ago as a result of land/water/energy mismanagement has arrived and an “I told you so'” is in order, no matter how distasteful it is to us and to the many good folks of this state.

    We’d rather not believe that our public servants and other experts who advise politicians-news services are not smart enough to save 5% of this rainwater for public uses in the immense natural underground reservoirs throughout California but this seems obvious. There can be no good reason to throw away three times as much savable rainwater as residents of Southern California use, causing enormous economic and natural resource damage that affects all state residents.

    To illustrate this mismanagement:

    1. Southern California has a 45-year supply lying unused in its aquifers, according to USGS figures, and receives seven times its usage as rainfall that would o keep this reservoir full. Yet it imports most of its water needs, forcing citizens to drink the cocktail of complex chemical compounds derived from sewage emptied into the Sacramento and Colorado rivers. (The pharmaceutical wastes, hormones etc complement a massive load of heavy metals from mines, cropland fertilizers, antibiotics from livestock excrement and the many fertilizers-pesticides-fungicides-herbicides in urban runoff to these rivers.)

    2. Every competent civil engineer knows that the federal figures – USGS and NRCS – for rainwater totals, runoff volume, avoidable evaporation and groundwater storage capacity show that more than half of Southern California’s rainfall could be stored away at less than the cost of guiding it to the ocean with complex, costly drainage facilities and the flood control works that these make necessary. This storage in aquifers would bring huge benefits besides ample pure water in both northern and southern California: Some examples:

    3. The year-round streamflows that derive from fully recharging aquifers would produce several times as much cheap hydropower for public utilities, cutting fossil fuel use dramatically and thereby lowering the cost of natural gas considerably.

    4. Using the plentiful water supply of Southern California (only 8% is used at present) would remove the need to pump 850 billion gallons a mile high each year so that it will flow to that region from the severely polluted Sacramento and Colorado rivers. This would save as much electricity as 1/3 of those residents use so that everyone’s electric bills would drop significantly.

    5. The multi-billion-dollar cost of local government water management agencies in Southern California would be reduced by more than half, allowing a large reduction in property taxes. (Or making the dollars available for essential services.

    6. Need for services of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
    would vanish with sensible rainwater storage, further reducing taxes for all Southern Californians and eliminating the massive economic and environmental damage this agency perpetrates yearly.

    7. Flooding would be progressively eliminated as each newly developed parcel in Southern California is designed to guide all of its rainfall to groundwater storage as mandated by the California Water Code of 1945. (This planning/design is standard procedure in Fresno and Phoenix but most Californians, including Governors, have been fooled or intimidated into not demanding it.)

    8. Water pollution would be progressively reduced in direct ratio to the
    competence and personal integrity of elected and appointed officials, making public waters safe for swimming , fishing and wildlife.

    It is sad indeed that Central California has become a “Dust Bowl” due to the fooling-coercing-bribing of politicians, so that many farmers have lost a large part of their water supply and face loss of their property to an agribusiness empire that seeks total monopoly control over food production. But whenever cunning thieves seek windfall profits someone must suffer.
    In this case we can clearly see the damage being done, barren fields and dead orchards. But most of California’s economic damage is not visible and the news media is trained to ignore it. With more than %5,000 being stolen from an average household yearly through government and public utilities the robbery of Southern California’s treasury has risen to over $30 billion yearly and nearly as much is being stolen from Upstate residents through water supply-related scams.

    Whenever a minority group gains control of government by deceiving the conservative 2/3 American majority through corrupted news services, as happened in California, all citizens suffer economic and quality-of-life losses. All, that is, except the leaders of that noisy minority and the criminal element of the business sector that hides behind and directs these highly visible extremists. The many professional liars; lawyers – civil engineers – bankers – journalists; who serve this criminal element will profit, of course, but they and their families will also be damaged by the hidden negative impacts of natural and economic resource mismanagement.

    Californians have seen their standard of living diminishing for many decades but the conservative majority has not been smart enough to recognize the enemy within and unite to defeat it. Because of their failure to help protect and defend family and friends most folks have only themselves to blame for the degradation of their quality of life and the present economic disaster. Cutting costs by $50-$60 billion yearly would quickly produce a budget surplus that could provide major stimulus payments to alleviate its rampant unemployment. But this will not happen until a majority of voters discover how badly they are being defrauded by the persons who control their water supply, and these master criminals have done a marvelous job of misusing the major news-entertainment-advertising media they control to cover up their schemes.

    We perceive self-serving mismanagement by bureaucrats collaborating with the private sector for mutual benefit. Perhaps there are good reasons to build huge concrete ditches that dump rainwater to the ocean, instead of detaining-retaining-infiltrating this precious resource wherever it falls with much less costly USDA/USEPA methodologies. But we see no good excuse for the flagrant waste of water and public funds. We hope to see concerned citizens recognize the waste of much more pure rainwater than they need and so question the credentials of politicians who contribute to this.

    Jim Marple
    for Citizens for Responsbile Water Management

  27. Doug@usa.com said,

    July 7, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    This problem is all due to socialism.

    Once upon a time, long long ago, this area was not a dust bowl. It was a natural environment with plants that had adapted over millions of years to grow within the limits of the water that was naturally available.

    But then, socialists in government used tax-payer money to build canals and started pumping water, at tax-payer expense, into the area so that a few farmers could profit off the land. They plowed under the natural plants that had evolved to live in the environment and keep the dirt on the ground, and not in the air in huge dust clouds, where it belonged.

    Now that the tax-payers cannot afford to continue subsidizing this unnatural environment the fields are no longer water-soaked and the dirt gets blown by the wind, which is another naturally occurring phenomenon, and the “dust bowl” has been created.

    So yes, Congress created the dust-bowl when they first subsidized farming on land that was not naturally suited to the task. Once again, Socialism has a negative affect in the long-term. Socialism NEVER works.

  28. caterwaulin said,

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 am

    But we have to make sure the fish are here to enjoy the earth long after we kill off all the people….

  29. Ian Denchasy said,

    July 27, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    This is hilarious. The farms were created with FEDERAL assistance and now that the dole is being cut off, everyone’s crying over the dust bowl and blaming a small fish! That’s rich. You’d be the first to scream at poor women with kids on welfare for not pulling themselves up by the bootstraps and now you get your own welfare to work program and it doesn’t feel too good, does it?

    First, practically NONE of the crops being grown in the central valley – NONE – are native to that area. The whole place has been turned into a food production zone through federal dollars, diverted water, and mismanagement by farmers. Yes, that’s right, FARMERS. Over reliance on fertilizers, genetically modified plants, crops that suck water like sponges, always thinking the subsidized water will be readily available. It’s a recipe for disaster. My wife’s entire family farmed potatoes for generations (Huey Potatoes, in case you want to verify) and saw the handwriting on the wall and sold off years ago. Agribusiness, not our government, is what’s ruining you. Every time you blame an endangered species for your problems, write a letter to your local Walmart about all those produce items shipped in from Chile or Peru or wherever. If you could charge and get a fair price for your crops, you wouldn’t NEED subsidized water as you’d function like normal businesses and PAY for it at market rates. I’m so tired of everyone blaming “socialism” or the “liberals” for everything wrong with our country. The family farmer became extinct years ago, so excuse me if I don’t cry a river for the mega corporations running our lands into dust bowls.

    So if I’m to understand correctly, everything in our state is basically expendable in the name of keeping orchards growing along a stretch of Highway 5? Orchards that didn’t exist until the federal government blessed everyone with cheap water for decades? Puh-leeze.

  30. July 29, 2009 at 10:25 am

    [...] Dust Bowl http://beetlebabee.wordpress.com/200…ley-dust-bowl/ I found this to be kind of sad and disturbing . Has anyone heard or seen anything about this [...]

  31. beetlebabee said,

    August 4, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    I’m not sure what you mean by federal assistance, as if you don’t drive your car without federal assistance. In that sense of the word, everything is done with federal assistance. Are you on the dole? You use the roads don’t you? You participate in interstate commerce? You do so with the blessing of the federal government. That is different than being on the dole.

    For you to blame this situation on farmers only shows your complete lack of information on the subject, and your quote about none of the food grown here being “native” to the area…..have you ever eaten Yucca root?? I doubt it. No commercially grown food is native to any area it’s grown in. It’s all enhanced and specialized for maximum food production. That’s why we don’t live with loincloths spending our entire day gathering the itty bits of “natural” foods found in the desert here.

    Subsidies, welfare, all that has nothing to do with the water spigots being cut off from California farmers. Stick it to the “big” corporations right? Your selfish, small minded view is exactly what got the farmers into this mess in the first place. Farmers were here working the land generations before most of the population exploded in this state that strains the water supply. Everyone has a right to access the water in this state, especially it’s citizens—and that includes it’s farmers.

  32. Sal said,

    August 11, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    The sadest thing is that people fail to recognize the real agenda – world depopulation. The environmental movement was hijacked long ago by the Rockefellers, Rothchilds, British Royal Family, etc. What do you think the new carbon tax/credits are all about as well. And vaccines? Please do some research before it’s too late. Or come September with the mandatory “swine” flu (bioweapon) vaccines, they will get their wish, and famine will be only a part of the problem.

  33. Dallas said,

    August 17, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    The orchard you show in photos is sad. It has also been dead for many years.
    I drive 5 freqently and for at least four years have noticed it. It is not dead as a result of your current issue and is indeed the only dead orchard visible on 5 betwreen the east bay and Los Angeles.

  34. madcreek said,

    August 19, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    The research has been done but that will not solve the problem if people will not recognize what needs to be done.

  35. Sarah McQuigly said,

    August 22, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    “Congress creates Central Valley Water Project” or “Congress creates agricultural subsidy”. How about them apples?
    The “dust bowl” and dry fields are strategically placed by the freeway for political reasons. Furthermore, think of the fishermen who are losing their livelihoods due to the millions of salmon fry that are pumped from the delta waters to central valley farms. The salmon fisheries in California were CLOSED for two years due to habitat loss directly related to pumping water to central valley farmers. The NWF sued the federal gov’t and won concerning this issue. Check out Central Valley NWF vs NOAA. This is a serious matter and these accusations against “congress” are just a whiny way of these central valley agribusinesses refusing to change their ways. They need to adopt more water conserving practices. If the central valley was full of small farmers, say 1000 acres or less per farmer, then we would not have these issues.

  36. August 23, 2009 at 8:39 am

    [...] roadside and loads of "Dust bowl created by Congress" signs (Google returned this blog: http://beetlebabee.wordpress.com/2009/06/01/dead-and-dying-californias-central-valley-dust-bowl/ [...]

  37. David Nelson said,

    August 23, 2009 at 11:02 am

    The congress created “dust bowl” is just road side politics. Ignore it. The federal govt was sued in 2008 (NWF vw NOAA) because they said it was okay to remove so much water from the Delta. George Bush campaign promised an unsustainable amount of irrigation water for farmers at the expense of salmon loss. The entire California salmon fisheries industry was CLOSED due to population declines directly related to the overpumping of delta waters. Agribusiness need to adopt more water and soil conserving methods. They do exist.

  38. Judy said,

    August 29, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Two years ago I drove through the Central Valley in September. At noon huge sprinklers were going full force which I found outrageous as I had just received instructions from my local water department to water my yard only during early morning hours so there would be less evaporation. Cutting back on watering of lawns, even golf courses, would be literally a drop in the bucket as 85% of California’s water is used for agriculture. Half of that goes for crops such as rice, cotton, and alfalfa. The other 15% is for industry and residential uses. For decades California farmers have grown crops that are not viable in an area that is basically a desert because they had access to huge amounts of cheap water. Now they are blaming the problems they created on everyone except themselves. Cut back on the crops that need huge amounts of water (rice, etc.) and there would be plenty for fruit trees and vineyards as well as lawns.

  39. beetlebabee said,

    August 29, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Judy, this fight over water has been going on for many years. There is no such thing as “huge amounts of cheap water” in California. Do you think sprinklers are not efficient? Would you rather have flood irrigation, that takes many times the water consumption? Maybe there is a more efficient way to irrigate, or maybe there are necessary reasons for what they do, I’m not sure. What I do know is that the amount of food we can grow without water is nil.

    “Cut back on the crops that need huge amounts of water (rice, etc.) and there would be plenty for fruit trees and vineyards as well as lawns.”
    The amount of cutback for some farmers is 100% and it’s still not enough because of the priorities being placed on smelt and green urban lawns. They are giving everything, and we are giving nothing. Before you take up the line that consumer needs are more important than producer needs, think about how the most fertile soil in North America is going to waste, and how that will affect your ability to feed your family. The bleeding of the producers will affect the entire state. You can’t make one side pay for the water deficit without hurting the other.

  40. Judy said,

    August 30, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Obviously you didn’t read my posting.

    The fact is: 85% of water in California is used for agriculture, 15 for industry and residential–a rather lopsided ratio. The water needed to keep lawns green is minimal compared to that used to grow crops (rice, cotton, and alfalfa) that have no business being cultivated in an area that is basically a desert.

    Our rivers are being sucked dry and the California fishing industry is being destroyed. When smelt cannot survive neither can salmon and other fish.

    I suggest you read an article published on August 20, 2009, in the LOS ANGELES TIMES regarding what many mistakingly believe is a fight between farmers and fish: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-cap20-2009aug20,0,1463418.column

  41. beetlebabee said,

    August 30, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Judy, your hostility is interesting, however irrelevant. I would ask you who was here first? The farmers or the population? These farmers have been in this valley, farming for 3 generations. The Central Valley is some of the most fertile soil in the world. It is worth the water to sustain the productivity there. Let the metropolitan areas cut back. The Central Valley had more water resources naturally before they were forced to give them to urban areas who insisted on growing and spreading beyond what was sustainable.

    In addition, the smelt’s dire condition is only estimated, not proven. For the people, the consequences are dire already. 80,000 jobs are endangered or already lost throughout the valley, and food prices are going up for the rest of us.

    Bear in mind that we’re not talking about a dam for electricity, or offshore oil rigs. We’re talking about our food supply, and a judge actually decided that a two-inch minnow is more important.

    Before you ask why you should care about this if you don’t live in California, consider that the Golden State is home to nine of the nation’s ten largest farming counties. It supplies over half of the country’s fruits, nuts and vegetables and over 90 percent of our almonds, artichokes, avocados, broccoli and processing tomatoes. As measured by cash value, grapes, lettuce and almonds are California’s biggest crops.

    As such, unless something is done soon, Americans could find themselves buying more and more imported produce at significantly higher prices and with far less pesticide control.

  42. Judy said,

    August 30, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    I am a third generation California and do care about this state. My grandparents were farmers and I lived on a small farm as a child. We had fruit trees and, for awhile, we raised alfalfa for our horses. My family gave up on the alfalfa as it cost too much to grow. We ended up buying what the horses needed from a man with a larger farm who had subsidized water.

    I am proud that California farmers are producing so much of the nation’s fruits and vegetables. Almonds, artichokes, avocados, broccoli, tomatoes, grapes, lettuce and almonds are wonderful as are oranges, lemons, plums, peaches, apricots, and strawberries.

    What I don’t understand is WHY more than 42% of California’s water is being used to grow rice, alfalfa, and cotton, crops that need intensive irrigation and are more appropriate for areas that receive heavy rains.

    Even if metropolitan areas cut back, they use only 15% of California’s available water and could never make up the deficit. Your argument defies logic, but apparently questioning it makes me hostile.

  43. beetlebabee said,

    August 30, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    According to the Hannity clip and other reports I’ve read, the question isn’t one of whether there’s enough water or not, but of priority between the fish and the farmers. Did you watch the clip? or this one?


  44. Judy said,

    September 1, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    It’s apparent that you didn’t read the article by George Skelton I suggested which shows how this is NOT just a question of fish versus farmers: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-cap20-2009aug20,0,1463418.column so I will reprint it:

    “‘WATER BUFFALOES GOT IT ALL WRONG'”

    “The ‘water buffaloes’ like to frame their fight as farmers vs. fish. It is not. It’s about farmers and fishermen.

    A California water buffalo is someone who instinctively battles to develop water — so named, I’m told, after the beast that reputedly can smell water from 200 miles away.

    The fight isn’t necessarily about ‘versus’ either because farmers and fishermen often are in the same boat, dry-docked for lack of water.

    Up and down the San Joaquin Valley, farm fields have been fallowed and field hands can’t find work because there isn’t enough water to irrigate crops.

    ‘I represent communities that are threatened to be blown away like tumbleweeds,’ Assemblyman Juan Arambula (I-Fresno) complained at a legislative water hearing Tuesday.

    Along California’s central and northern coasts, salmon season has been closed for the second straight year because, in large part, water conditions have become so mucked up in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that baby fish can’t survive before heading to sea.

    Commercial fishermen and their crews can’t work. Recreational anglers can’t fish, hurting charter boat owners.

    ‘The delta is a black hole’ for salmon, legislators were told by Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Assns.

    The Sacramento-San Joaquin river system — encompassing California’s Central Valley — historically has been the second-largest salmon producer on the West Coast, second only to the Columbia River. And Columbia salmon tend to migrate north to British Columbia and Alaska. Salmon that make it through the delta and out the Golden Gate have supplied 90% of the catch off California, and 50% off Oregon.

    The delta also is the largest estuary on the West Coast of America, north and south, Grader said in an interview.

    ‘Estuaries are places where salmon gain strength before going to sea,’ he continued. ‘We’ve been seeing salmon actually losing weight in the delta. They become weakened, get lost because of [reverse river] flows, become entrained in pumps or wind up in forebays where they’re easy prey to predator fish.’

    In 1950, more than 1 million chinook salmon — also called king salmon — returned during the fall to spawn in the Sacramento-San Joaquin system. Last fall, only 66,000 returned.

    There also have been some good spawning runs — notably in 2002, after a few wet winters, when 880,000 salmon showed up. But generally, there has been a gradual decline in Central Valley salmon over the last 60 years.

    Blame construction of dams that blocked access to ancestral spawning streams and the introduction of giant fish-chomping delta pumps that reverse river flows while diverting water south to irrigate San Joaquin Valley fields and fill Southern California reservoirs. Pour in a toxic brew of pesticide runoff from farm fields and inadequately treated waste water from cities such as Sacramento and you’ve got a fish death trap.

    So it’s not just about cotton, cherries and citrus. It’s about chinooks. Also huge sturgeon and striped bass. They’ve gotten sick on delta water too.

    Some water buffaloes belittle the striped bass because they’re not a native species. But they’ve lived in the delta for 130 years, which makes them a native by California standards. And let’s not even get into which crops are native to California.

    And, oh yes, there’s the pesky delta smelt — called the ‘canary in the coal mine,’ or, more aptly, ‘black hole’ — that water buffaloes love to hate.

    The tiny fish is officially listed as endangered. So federal courts have cut back on delta water exports to save the critter. That has San Joaquin Valley farmers and farm workers marching and protesting during this third year of drought. They’ve found a sympathetic listener in the governor’s office.

    ‘We have to go to the federal government and get this judge off our backs so that we can open the pumps and give water to the farmers,’ Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told me in April. ‘If I have a choice between the fish and the farmer, I choose the farmer. I choose the food that feeds the world.’

    As if salmon weren’t worth eating.

    Schwarzenegger sounded like a buffalo again on Tuesday when he denounced federal judges who ‘make decisions based on what’s best for the fish rather than what’s best for people.’

    Fishermen aren’t people, presumably, in the governor’s definition.

    But fishermen these days bear a striking resemblance to fallowing farmers — as delta salmon go the way of smelt.

    Schwarzenegger talked about fish vs. people as he vowed not to sign any delta-fix legislation that doesn’t include bonds for dams. The governor has lobbied unsuccessfully in recent years for a water bond issue of roughly $10 billion.

    Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) told me he could perhaps support a water bond in the $3-billion to $4-billion range.

    Democrats have proposed a legislative package that, among other things, would create a powerful, independent council to decide how to repair and replumb the delta, making it more fish-friendly and more reliable as a water deliverer.

    The delta is now dangerously vulnerable to floods or an earthquake that could topple levees, cutting off drinking water for 24 million people and irrigation for 3 million acres.

    If that catastrophe occurs, you’ll see the return of the fish — but an estimated $40 billion loss to the California economy, buffaloes included.”

  45. The Bad Guy said,

    September 2, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Thank you again to the Liberal Agenda.

    One day you will be out of office again, so that you will never be able to create a Dust Bowl in our state again.

  46. Stan said,

    September 4, 2009 at 10:01 am

    gee, maybe if we didn’t try to grow crops in a region that suffers from constant aridity, we wouldn’t have to cry for so many dead trees. “gee bob, this land looks like a desert and it only gets less than 10 inches of rainfall a year.” “that’s alright, george, it’s perfect for growin’ lettuce and tomatos and cotton and walnuts. shucks, we could probably even grow rice here, too.”

  47. beetlebabee said,

    September 4, 2009 at 10:25 am

    You begrudge farmers the water you bathe in. Are they to be condemned for using a scarce resource and not you? How are your personal needs more pressing than theirs?

  48. Madi said,

    September 4, 2009 at 11:08 am

    A quote that is pretty appropriate here:

    Only when the last tree has died
    And the last river poisoned
    And the last fish been caught
    Will we realise that we cannot eat money.

    Cree Indian

  49. beetlebabee said,

    September 4, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Madi, Must it be one or the other? How about the judicious use of resources and human ingenuity? Is the problem not worth solving as some suggest, or is there an answer we can all be happy with?

  50. Judy said,

    September 4, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Regarding your response to Stan: Farmers use 85% of California’s water. The other 15% goes to INDUSTRY and residences. Are you proposing that farmers take the bath water also?

    20% of California’s water is used to grow cotton, not exactly an edible crop. To grow the fiber for one cotton diaper needs 105.3 gallons of water, one T-shirt 256.6 gallons of water, one bath towel 401.4 gallons of water, a man’s dress shirt 414.5 gallons of water, and 987 gallons of water are required for one pair of jeans. Approximately 85% of California’s cotton is EXPORTED.

    Meanwhile California’s salmon, which are edible, are disappearing because water is being diverted for t-shirts and jeans which will be made in China.

  51. beetlebabee said,

    September 4, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Judy, are the edible salmon going to feed as many people as the crops? That is a LOT of salmon. The supposition that industry equals Chinese imports only reflects your political bias. I’m sorry, it’s just not convincing.

  52. Katy said,

    September 7, 2009 at 7:46 am

    If you look at the UN-USA Man & Biosphere Wildlands Project map, UN Agenda 21, you will see that this is all according to plan.

  53. September 9, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    [...] formerly the breadbasket of the world” (Mom) is now dead trees and dust fields with a few dense green farms in between. Check out this blog post for pictures[...]

  54. Arkansas Girl said,

    September 17, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    I have never been to California and I am sorry for what is going on. I find this situation to be heartbreaking! What bothers me even more is this is the first time I have heard of this!!!!!!! We need to take back our lives and our government! As far as I am concered take the whole government out and start with one. SARAH PALIN!

    Obama and his “CREW” will pay for all of this one day!

  55. Joan of Arkansas said,

    September 22, 2009 at 10:17 am

    I am CA native, transplanted to Arkansas. We had not heard anything of this until Hannity. I am crushed and I feel sick at the sight of all of those dead trees and dry ground. I remember since I was a child always finding the best of everything to eat there. All of the fruits, nuts and vegetables feed a large part of the world, not to mention much of our country. We get produce from CA, or should I say got? I may have just bought my last CA peaches. Every time I think of it, it makes me want to cry. I lived all of my life all over CA until 10 years ago when we retired and relocated. We have lots of trees and natural resources. It is possible to care about the environment and its occupants and not be crazy. One can stay sane and not go off the deep end of any cause. Common Sense dictates. Will do whatever we can.

  56. beetlebabee said,

    September 22, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Joan, Hannity had it on twice, once last summer and once just a few days ago that was much more detailed.

    If anyone missed the Hannity Update on the “Fish or Families” debate, see “The Valley that Hope Forgot” where they talk about what’s been done to rectify the situation. They have some heart rending footage of farmers and their families talking about their struggles to be heard in Sacramento and Washington D.C. as well.

    http://beetlebabee.wordpress.com/2009/09/19/sean-hannitys-fish-or-families-update/

    This should never happen in America.

  57. DT said,

    September 30, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Our forefathers would have looked at this situation and started building the infrastructure to collect and distribute more water. They would have built new reservoirs along with nuclear powered desalination plants up and down the coast. And when they were done, there would be enough water for fish, farmland, and population growth to the end of this century.

    Our generation can’t seem to build or do anything, or solve any problem. I’m sick of children crying to courts to take from one another. Where are the leaders, the men, who engineered and built this country? Has that spirit just been completely lost?

    Maybe China deserves to be the world superpower.

  58. beetlebabee said,

    September 30, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    DT, I agree. The technology is there, we have the tools we need to solve the problem, we even have the farmers willing to pay for the solution out of pocket. All we need is the permission. Somehow the government, on the path to utopia, left the people behind.

  59. Michelle Benito said,

    October 30, 2009 at 8:09 am

    This is just a part of the master plan by MANSANTO and their Frankenfoods. They (a chemical and poisonous pesticide manufacturer owned by the jesuits) bought 2 major seed companies to mass maufacturer GMO seeds. Monsanto is forcing the farmers to buy these GMO seeds for their farmland. Their agenda in California is to wipe out the farmers and organic farm market and natural seeding process of farming, and replace the California farms with GMO seeds. What is scary about this is that the fruits and vegetables do not reproduce the seeds for next seasons so the farmers are then forced to buy seeds season after season from Monsanto.

    I read this this book: “Seeds of Deception”

    http://www.seedsofdeception.com/Public/Home/index.cfm

    Go to the above website and learn more about this government take over of our farms and foods…just like healthcare, auto manufactures, banks, etc…

    WAKE UP CALIFORNIA…WAKE UP AMERICA…

  60. martha dominguez said,

    November 1, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    My family and I were coming back from the San Fernando valley snd were on the highway 5 coming back home to San Jose and my sister could not believe how dry and dead the feilds and orchards are. She then strated to remember when we were small and we always traveled on the 5, how bueatiful and green the veiw was back then. how we loved to see the almond trees because we could not believe almonds grew on trees. NOW its nothing but branches…. HOW CAN WE LET THIS HAPPEN???? Congess then should stop drinking water and washing there cars and help the fields instead.

  61. Reallypissed said,

    November 9, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Yesterday, while driving to the OC from Sacramento, I pointed out to my daughter all the farms that we saw in the begining of our drive… it was fun, we talked about how great it would be to have a farm. We talked about how California is more than movie stars and fancy cars… For a moment I was really proud to live in California. I was showing my daughter how good, and how clean California can be. Then we crested the last green hill and decended into a dry, dead wasteland. 600,000 acres of dead wasteland, 40,000 jobs lost… for a fish! This is embarassing… we had something beautiful and we let them take it away from us. We have always turned a blind eye to the lying associated with our politicians and it’s starting to catch up with us. These people raped our land for their own selfish interests… we should be ashamed that we allowed it.

  62. Joan of Arkansas said,

    December 5, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Thank you so much for the pictures and information. What is the current status?

  63. beetlebabee said,

    December 5, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Governor S. has used the “water” crisis (it’s actually a politician crisis from my point of view) to put a water initiative on the ballot for next year. The legislature wouldn’t solve the problem, so from what I understand this is the best he could do. Unfortunately the proposition he put forward STINKS. It provides no new dams or reservoirs and it cuts funding for old dams that need repair. It puts meters on agricultural wells (which is a terrible idea if you want food to grow) and raises taxes on the rest of us. Not too promising.

  64. Madlyn Creekmore said,

    December 6, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    jhm comment in {{ double brackets}}

    “Governor S. has used the “water” crisis (it’s actually a politician crisis from my point of view) …”
    {{ California’s “water crisis” has been remanufactured by the news media as dictated by each editor’s bosses whenever this suited the criminal element of the private sector for more than a century.}}

    :… to put a water initiative on the ballot for next year.”
    {{ At least the public will have SOME say in this matter, then. Otherwise they have none because the people they elect are consistently fooled, coerced or bribed into doing precisely what that criminal element wants done, including changing laws to facilitate land development theft which lies at the core of California’s economic agony.}}

    “The legislature wouldn’t solve the problem, so from what I understand this is the best he could do. Unfortunately the proposition he put forward STINKS.”
    {{ Citizens so foolish that they consistently elect professional liars to make their laws and manage their government inevitably lose both their rights and their wealth. California’s Governor cannot defy the majority of Legislators, they control his budget and therefore dictate his actions. The failed economy is therefore a product of massive theft by mentors of the party in power. The majority of voters are getting precisely what they asked for. Unfortunately the minority is suffering equally.}}

    “It provides no new dams or reservoirs and it cuts funding for old dams that need repair”.
    {{The only dams needed require no State funding or direction. Thousands of these would be constructed immediately to provide ample water and a considerable amount of cheap hydropower in each community if citizens were well-informed enough to take advantage of the generous federal grants and loans intended for this use. Large In-stream dams are an obsolete approach to managing rainwater amd generating electricity.}}

    San Bernardino County and Fresno (historically) should be examples of water management that works. And we do have a CA Water Code law from 1945 that needs to be followed by water managers – but is not.

    ” It puts meters on agricultural wells (which is a terrible idea if you want food to grow)…”
    {{Metering agricultural wells is an equitable way to allocate public waters and should have been done a half-century ago. Grains, beans and hay can be grown just as well on the tens of millions of fertile, well-watered land east of the Rockies that were abandoned after California’s Syndicate bribed politicians into robbing the federal treasury by building its huge dams. The free water allowed these master profiteers to gain control over more than half of America’s food supply and therefore be able to extort tens of billions from the public yearly.}}

    “and raises taxes on the rest of us.”
    {{Everyone who voted for the present Legislature raised taxes on themselves and the rest of the public. The Governor is only a manager, cannot dictate what taxes shall be. He could, however, eliminate justification for higher taxes by implementing sensible water resource management as recommended by impartial technicians of state and federal government.}}

    “Not too promising.”

    {{ So who expected a rose garden from electing the same politicians repeatedly despite the obvious incompetence and/or dishonesty of these persons? }}

    There is a story in the Reader’s Digest from 1959 about how Oklahoma created a great water plan. If you are interested, I can get it for you.

  65. beetlebabee said,

    December 6, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    “Metering agricultural wells is an equitable way to allocate public waters and should have been done a half-century ago. Grains, beans and hay can be grown just as well on the tens of millions of fertile, well-watered land east of the Rockies that were abandoned after California’s Syndicate bribed politicians into robbing the federal treasury by building its huge dams. The free water allowed these master profiteers to gain control over more than half of America’s food supply and therefore be able to extort tens of billions from the public yearly.”

    I would have to disagree with you there. Controlling the farmers through water restrictions is the worst idea I’ve ever heard. There is water, and we ought to be thinking about how to collect and distribute it, not how to gouge the farmers even more. I am against water metering for cities, as well as for agricultural areas, but ESPECIALLY the agricultural areas. The government gets its fingers in too many pots as it is. They want to control and tax what they shouldn’t. If government controls water, they control life. That’s too much power.

  66. Becky Andrews said,

    December 21, 2009 at 9:36 am

    we are driving down 5 now what a shame.My take is not re elect any of the of congress and the senators. They have forgotten we voted them in and can vote them out. They are there to represent us and they are not.

  67. Don Victor said,

    February 12, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Socialism? Far-left loons? Conservatives have been telling the public that the environment did not need protection for decades. They have taken the $ from corporations and developers and ignored the scientific research showing the damage to our planet. They have encouraged waste and pollution telling consumers that the sky is the limit. Too many people, too much waste in the consumption of our natural resources, and a failure to look at the big picture and think far ahead when planning growth. Instead of term limits, which have been a disaster for California, we need a better informed populace that turns off their sitcoms and does some research.

  68. beetlebabee said,

    February 12, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Don, I disagree with your characterization of the ruling powers in this state. If anything the state has swung far too left in their priorities. When fish are more important than families, it is time to reevaluate priorities. There isn’t even any proof that the fish is endangered, or that the pumps had anything to do with it. Even assuming the worst, there are solutions (albeit expensive ones) that would reroute the water intake from somewhere besides the delta. The key for me here is that no solution is acceptable to those in charge of this fiasco. The reality is, they don’t want it to be solved, and they’re perfectly happy with the priorities of fish over families.

    That is not something I can support.

  69. Schmoozie said,

    June 14, 2010 at 7:18 am

    just drove past the ‘congress created dust bowl’ and wondered wth happened….found this blog, ty to all for the info…it is very sad indeed to see the fallow fields…as a long haul trucker I used to see the pretty trees where now there is just dirt…breaks my heart to see all that land just sitting there unused…and the family, I cannot imagine what this has done to them, on many levels no doubt…I hope they get the water they need to restore what they have lost, if that is possible…

  70. Pissed Off Again said,

    July 31, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    This is yet another example of a political agenda. As if preventing farmers from watering their crops would actually solve anything!!?? Where do these politicians come from? First off, these farmers probably bought the land from the State in the first place. Then spent their lives and resources cultivating the land, only to find a few generations down the road that they would be stripped of their livelihood and forced out of business by some insanely disturbed bureaucrats. If they are so worried about the fish, then put some minnows in a big pond at the zoo and let them procreate until they are off the endangered species list. That way they can work out a much BETTER solution in the meantime while the fishies are safe and happy. So now little fishies are saved, and now crops are saved, families are not out of work and do not have to go on welfare. The decision to force farmers out of business, and let thousands of acres of crops die is madness. There HAS to be a better solution than that. The whole thing smells like a political agenda since it was a brash, radical decision that has incalculable negative long term effects. If this was the best thing they could come up with, then they are either extremely stupid, or had an agenda in mind. Both of which should equal: get those maniacs out of office.

  71. stiiv said,

    November 14, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Man, this is an incredibly one sided view. Look, we can irrigate the desert to a certain degree and that is a good thing, but there are limits. Fisherman need the water, cities need the water, and yes other farmers need the water. It is a limited resource and we’re in the middle of a drought. So yes, orchards will be cut down and yes, that’s sad. But blaming them durn liberals is utterly idiotic.

    This is a resource contention issue. It’s going to be ugly and there are no simple solutions. Fools pretending there are easy answers are not helping.

  72. January 2, 2011 at 7:45 am

    [...] Dead and Dying–California’s Central Valley Dust Bowl – 2009 blog with photos of devastated farml… [...]

  73. beetlebabee said,

    January 13, 2011 at 10:15 am

    The answers are out there. The amount of rain we got just recently is an example. California is not always in drought, and this isn’t a drought issue. Now that we’ve had more than our water estimate of rainfall this year, will anything change? Not a bit. This is a policy decision, not a drought decision.

  74. September 18, 2011 at 11:31 am

    [...] A Sacramento resident’s personal experience when this first started happening in 2009: http://beetlebabee.wordpress.com/2009/06/01/dead-and-dying-californias-central-valley-dust-bowl/ [...]

  75. P.J. said,

    December 10, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Interesting how directly to the north of the plot of land that has the sign “Congress created Dustbowl” there is a green field. To the left and right, cotton and pistachio trees. So why is this particular piece of property lacking water when no other nearby isn’t? Lots of reasons. In one case, the property owner had ‘negotiation’ issues with the water district (meaning the farmer wanted much cheaper water). In several locations in California, especially in Kern County, Oxy & Chevron have set aside property for kit fox and other endangered species habitat. It was an easy agreement for the oil companies since they are exploited every other piece of land for oil production for Americans benefit. Not every person in oil production hates animals. In Tulare Co. & Merced Co. the signs were put up by a water district who wants more water….not for agriculture, but to support another high-end subdivision called the Tejon Ranch. This is all well-known and found in many, many articles in both the Fresno Bee and the Bakersfield Californian, two newspapers known for their conservative values. To call those newspapers “liberal rags” would be an outright smear without any foothold in reality. Do a little research into the Westlands Water District and Paramount Farming and tell me again how this is liberal politics. This is about misdirection of how California’s water is used. Farmers get it, then they sell it to developers. They do not use it for ag. Sad fact. I can name 10 ranchers who make a lot of money off water….but not for ag production. They use it for real estate development. They all sit on water boards in Tulare and Kern County. Talk about the fox watching the henhouse.

  76. Jim Baker said,

    December 24, 2011 at 11:03 am

    This policy is made by the imprialist to help raise the Food Prices in USA and Canada they you will get pasturised nuts from Isreal and help Isreali agriculture

  77. January 29, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I was looking for pictures to tell people about it on Facebook, although I haven’t been down I-5 for a while.

  78. February 24, 2014 at 8:46 am

    […] I repeat, of course you're going to have more drought when you strip them of their water supply. Attachment […]


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