Crops, water and habitat: This California farmer’s winning trifecta

He has senior water rights, and while he still had to make difficult management decisions during the drought, he ended up with more water than many of his neighbors and found ways to share it, a tremendous display of collaboration in the farming community.
I’m the 6th generation of my family to work in California agriculture.
During the recent drought, we were able to leverage drip irrigation and continue to grow our operations.
To what degree do sustainability and conservation factor in to the management decisions you make on the farm?
What drives your conservation ethic?
Farmers inherently know what sustainability is.
We must be sustainable if we want to continue to grow good products and stay in business.
I may be able to grow a great crop of tomatoes, but I didn’t know what it took to successfully restore habitat areas on the farm.
We worked with biologists and habitat restoration specialists to reestablish water fowl habitat and riparian corridors on the property.
I think the dynamic is changing because the agricultural community and environmentalists are finding a lot of overlap in our work and shared goals for a healthy environment and reliable water supply.

Satellites reveal bird habitat loss in California

Satellites reveal bird habitat loss in California.
Drought and reduced seasonal flooding of wetlands and farm fields threaten a globally important stopover site for tens of thousands of migratory shorebirds in California’s Sacramento Valley, a new Duke University-led study shows.
The researchers’ analysis of historical biweekly NASA Landsat satellite images of the valley reveals that flooded habitat near the peak time of spring migration has shrunk by more than twice the size of Washington, D.C. over the last 30 years.
"On average, we’re losing an area about four times the size of Central Park each year, during a critical window of time in late March," said Danica Schaffer-Smith, a doctoral student at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, who conducted the study with researchers from the nonprofit Point Blue Conservation Science.
"The fact that these highly mobile species are increasingly struggling to find flooded habitat on their migrations is an indicator that our freshwater wetland systems are in trouble," Schaffer-Smith said.
Many other species rely on these same habitats, too."
Analysis of recent satellite images by Schaffer-Smith and her team shows that open water covers just three percent of the landscape during peak migration in April, when the birds urgently need flooded habitat to rest and feed.
"One season of plentiful rainfall can’t undo the effects of years of habitat destruction and increased water consumption for a growing number of competing uses," she said.
The new study’s findings could help guide the future timing and location of such initiatives.
Three decades of Landsat-derived spring surface water dynamics in an agricultural wetland mosaic; Implications for migratory shorebirds.

Update for Delta Mercury Control Program and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)

From the Delta Mercury Control Program, Central Valley Regional Water Board: Below are a series of brief updates related to the Delta Mercury Control Program (aka Delta Methylmercury TMDL).
Status of Phase 1 Studies The Delta Mercury Control Program Phase 1 emphasizes studies and pilot projects to develop and evaluate management practices to control methylmercury in the Delta.
The studies encompass a variety of source types, including municipal wastewater treatment plants, urban and industrial stormwater discharges, dredging operations, tidal wetlands, open water habitats, and seasonal wetlands.
Progress reports detailing the current status of these studies have been submitted to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (CVRWQCB) and are posted on the program website here.
Starting in 2018 staff will be reviewing available information in preparation for the Phase 1 Delta Mercury Control Program review.
The results of these control studies will inform the program review as well as inform implementation of potential methylmercury controls for Phase 2.
Delta Mercury Exposure Reduction Program In conjunction with the mercury and methylmercury load reduction goals of the TMDL, the Delta Mercury Control Program includes a Mercury Exposure Reduction Program (MERP).
Upstream Mercury Control Programs Statewide Mercury Control Program for Reservoirs A Statewide Mercury Control Program for Reservoirs is currently being developed for mercury-impaired reservoirs throughout California to reduce methylmercury levels in reservoir fish.
Central Valley Mercury Control Program for Rivers The CVRWQCB is just beginning to develop mercury control programs for rivers in the Central Valley.
New Mercury Beneficial Uses and Water Quality Objectives On 2 May 2017 the State Water Resources Control Board adopted Resolution No.

Torrance’s Madrona Marsh, on brink of ‘collapse’ from drought, lands grant for restoration

Torrance’s fragile Madrona Marsh ecosystem is on the brink of “total collapse” without restoration after five years of drought, state officials said, prompting the award of a $470,000 grant to save the rare habitat that contains “irreplaceable natural resources.” The California Coastal Conservancy unanimously approved the grant at its meeting Thursday.
“After five or six years of drought, you have quite a long time between opportunities for species in vernal pool habitats to thrive,” said Sam Jenniches, manager of the project for the conservancy.
“And during that time you also have time for invasive species to move in,” he added.
“Without precipitation and with the presence of invasive species, the functional vernal pool habitat is pretty much at dire risk.” The state is believed to have lost 90 percent of its vernal pools, which dry up in the summer and are replenished in wet winters, the conservancy said in a staff report supporting the grant proposal.
The 45-acre preserve provides habitat for more than 100 species of rare animals and plants.
“Over the last five years, with the exception of this year, (the vernal pools) have not filled properly,” Drake said.
“It’s at a point where if we didn’t have rain this year I would have considered finding a way to move the rain we didn’t get from wetlands into the vernal pools.” The project, which will begin late this summer or early this fall, involves restoring and enhancing up to 4 acres of vernal pool habitat.
That will be accomplished by hand grading the flood plain surrounding three vernal pools to restore natural grading.
That will once again allow direct runoff that was disturbed by the oil field that formerly occupied the site for more than 80 years.
Volunteers from the Friends of Madrona Marsh — the nonprofit group that largely runs the preserve and was awarded the grant — create a native plant “barrier” to block weed seeds from entering the restoration area.

Facing Extinction II: Making hard decisions

by Jason Baumsteiger and Peter Moyle In part I of our blog, we projected a bleak future for many freshwater fishes, especially in California.
What if it no longer exists in its natural habitat or in the wild?
In our recent paper (Baumsteiger and Moyle 2017), we attempted to tackle these questions and provide an honest, although imperfect, way to assess extinction.
This is an area between formal threatened/endangered status and global extinction, where a species is in limbo – it is partially extinct.
Categorizing “grey extinction” Mitigated extinction- This category represents the many ways that a species can become dependent on humans for its existence.
Native-range extinction – As the name implies, this is a species which no longer exists in its natural range but may exist elsewhere (say a reservoir somewhere).
Wild extinction – This category is one step further than native-range extinction.
Apparent extinction – This category is the final “holding pattern” category when we think the species is globally extinct because we cannot find it anywhere.
As a species becomes endangered, we start doing everything we can to conserve that species, one species at a time.
When we put these ideas together, we generated a decision tree to help navigate the many categories and approaches that one might take in assessing extinction (Fig.

Deep Coral Reefs In The Hawaii Island Provide The Habitat For Shallow Reef Fishes

Deep Coral Reefs In The Hawaii Island Provide The Habitat For Shallow Reef Fishes.
A recent study unveils how the deep coral reefs in the Hawaii Island play a significant role in conserving the shallow reef fishes.
The reef fish biodiversity heavily depends on the shallow coral reefs.
More clearly, the deep coral reefs are the safe destination for the shallow coral reef fishes.
For a long time, this mesmerizing island is regarded one of the best destinations for the aquarium fish trading business.
Cori Kane and a group of student divers took the initiatives to reach more than 100 feet below the surface.
The researchers documented the existing reef fishes around the deep coral reefs.
The new research of Cori Kane is regarded as the first study about the mesophotic coral reefs that exist on the Hawaii Island, reported.
Fishes that belong to the upper portion of the mesophotic reef system are almost similar to those fishes exist in the shallow waters.
It is quite clear that this current research study explores many important facts about the coral reef world of the Hawaii Island.

SCIENCE NEWS: Innovative program builds partnerships, provides wildlife habitat; The ecology of non-native fish in the San Joaquin River; Scientists link California droughts to distinctive atmospheric waves; Rivers, dams, and drive-by truckers; and more …

In science news this week: Innovative program builds partnerships, provides wildlife habitat; The ecology of non-native fish in the San Joaquin River; Turtles die in Southern California lake following drought and fire; Scientists link California droughts to distinctive atmospheric waves; Rivers, dams, and drive-by truckers; US streams carry surprising mixture of pollutants; 7 cool facts about water striders; An electric fix for removing long-lasting chemicals in groundwater; and Understanding Earth’s climate Innovative program builds partnerships, provides wildlife habitat: “As Rob Crawford drove around his property, something caught his eye.
… ” Read more from FishBio here: The ecology of non-native fish in the San Joaquin River Turtles die in Southern California lake following drought and fire: “Almost all of the turtles living in a southern California lake died following a large fire and years of drought, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report published in the journal Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems.
… ” Read more from the USGS here: Turtles die in Southern California lake following drought and fire Scientists link California droughts to distinctive atmospheric waves: “The crippling wintertime droughts that struck California from 2013 to 2015, as well as this year’s unusually wet California winter, appear to be associated with the same phenomenon: a distinctive wave pattern that emerges in the upper atmosphere and circles the globe.
… ” Read more from here: Scientists link California droughts to distinctive atmospheric waves Rivers, dams, and drive-by truckers: “When it comes to hydropower dams, the world is a pretty polarized place.
… ” Read more from the Cool Green Science blog here: Rivers, dams, and drive-by truckers US streams carry surprising mixture of pollutants: “Many U.S. waterways carry a variety of pollutants, but not much is known about the composition or health effects of these chemical combinations.
… ” Read more from Science Daily here: US streams carry surprising mixture of pollutants 7 cool facts about water striders: “Water striders are one of the most interesting and enjoyable aquatic creatures to observe.
There have been some 1,700 species of water striders identified.
These man-made materials have unique qualities that make them extremely useful.
… ” Read more from NASA here: Understanding Earth’s climate Maven’s XKCD Comic Pick of the Week … Sign up for daily email service and you’ll never miss a post!
About Science News and Reports: This weekly feature, posted every Thursday, is a collection of the latest scientific research and reports with a focus on relevant issues to the Delta and to California water, although other issues such as climate change are sometimes included.