Energy and Environment

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The bi-state sage grouse, found only in Nevada and California, will not be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports.

All of the stakeholders involved in saving the Mono Basin sage grouse from extinction offered the same message at Tuesday's press conference in Reno on how the bird has avoided the need for federal protection:

"This collaborative partnership is a model for effective, long-term conservation," said Tony Wasley, director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

Sandoval Orders Drought Forum

Apr 8, 2015
gov.nv.gov

Governor Brian Sandoval has issued an executive order to create a panel for studying and combating Nevada's severe drought. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports that Sandoval announced the order Wednesday during a press conference at Washoe Lake State Park.

The order will create a Nevada Drought Forum designed to study and analyze state water use and potential areas for water savings. Sandoval's order also requires a water audit of all state-owned facilities.

http://watershedsculpture.blogspot.com/

Artists and conservationists have teamed up to make watershed sculptures beside the Truckee River. Along with their aesthetic beauty, using basket-weaving techniques to hold natural materials together, the artwork will actually restore damaged flood plains over the next few years. Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss reports.

The Sierra snowpack is now the worst it’s been in a century. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports.

Jeff Anderson, with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, just measured 13.2 inches of water content in the snowpack up at the Mt. Rose summit. In a normal season, there would be about 90 inches of snow.

“When you look at the mountains right now," he says, "and you look at the snow that’s up there, you’re really seeing history.”

Many farmers in and around Yerington are being ordered to cut their water usage in half this growing season.  

As far as State Engineer Jason King knows, this is the first time they've ever told farmers to stop pumping groundwater.

"What we are seeing in these two particular basins, Smith and Mason Valley, are just unprecedented water declines. They're the steepest on record."

Tahoe bugs are "canaries in the coal mine"

Jan 20, 2015

You are probably familiar with the "Keep Tahoe Blue" stickers, which have brought public awareness to the decline in clarity of Lake Tahoe's signature blue waters. 

But here's a bumper sticker you haven't seen, yet: 'Save Tahoe's Smallest Critters.' Those invertebrates, some only native to Tahoe, are undergoing a massive extinction at the lake's bottom. A group of divers recently completed a first-of-its-kind tour of the entire lake in order to assess the ecological changes there. 

The new year "critical" for region's water supply

Dec 30, 2014

The snowpack in the Sierra continues to reflect the drought conditions that have stressed Northern Nevada in recent years.

For the third year in a row, the Truckee Meadows and other nearby basins on the Eastern Sierra have only about two thirds of the normal snowpack. Or, put another way: we’ve lost a year’s worth of precipitation in this most recent drought cycle.

“The reservoir storage on the Truckee River is only about 25 percent of capacity.”

Jeff Anderson is a hydrologist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Water fight takes shape in Northern Nevada

Dec 12, 2014
Chuck Schlarb

 A battle over water is brewing on the parched earth of the Black Rock Desert. An effort to transport water from Humboldt County more than 100 miles south has residents and ranchers alarmed. 

Chuck Giordano grows alfalfa on the outskirts of the Black Rock Desert in a place appropriately known as Desert Valley. But don’t let the name fool you. When it comes to water, he’s lucky.

“We have a fairly good reserve of water underneath us because our water table, even with the drought, has hardly dropped any.”

State wildlife officials say they are concerned that climate change and urbanization might diminish the native bee population. Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss reports the Nevada Department of Agriculture is putting together guidelines to protect these important pollinators of natural plants.

Jeff Knight is the state’s entomologist. His job is primarily to keep the bad bugs out and to monitor the ones that are vital to the local environment.

Nevada regulators to decide on rules for fracking

Aug 28, 2014
Photo from www.blogs.kqed.org.

Thursday, Nevada regulators will decide on proposed rules for hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking." The industry is just beginning to explore for oil in the east, near Elko, using this technique. Environmental groups and some locals worry about the impacts on Nevada's scarce water resources. Reno Public Radio's Will Stone has more on that debate.

New funding is needed for Tahoe boat inspection program

Aug 28, 2014

The Lake Tahoe boat inspection program prevents invasive species from contaminating the water. Federal funding for the program lasts just one more year and it’s unclear where the money will come from after that.

For the last five years, boats launched into Lake Tahoe have been inspected to prevent non-native species like quagga mussels from wreaking havoc on the lake’s eco-system.

As Tahoe warms, oxygen and clarity could decrease

Aug 14, 2014
Will Stone

In the lead up to next week’s Tahoe Summit, researchers are taking stock of how warmer temperatures are impacting the lake’s iconic clear waters. Earlier this week, we looked at concerns about water quality near the shore. But, as it turns out, climate change may also affect oxygen levels in the lake.

 

 

Bob Conrad/This Is Reno

UNR and DRI researchers in Northern Nevada are launching a broad effort to better predict and prepare for severe drought and climate change. 

 

While many places are feeling the impacts of climate change, Western Nevada and the Sierra make a good case study. For one, the trends in temperature change here track almost exactly with the global ones. Along with that, Maureen McCarthy, a UNR researcher, says our desert environment, fed by snowfall in the mountains, is one of the most vulnerable to climate change. 

Will Stone

Gary Scott has spent many a summer on the docks at Incline Village, overseeing his rental boat company, Action Water Sports. But, this year, keeping the boats clean has been more of a challenge.

"With our rental boats, in particular, we're seeing more algae growth than what we're used to."

Tahoe may not be in the same shape as some lakes in California, where the water levels are at record lows, but it's still feeling the impacts of a light winter and very little snowmelt. Scott says the water level here is down about 5 feet.

Nevada Department of Wildlife

Wildlife officials have been salvaging fish from ditches around Reno that are depleted because of the ongoing drought.

Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports that the operation saved about six thousand fish.

The Truckee Meadows Water Authority usually operates the Washoe and Verdi ditches as hydroelectric power sources, but the authority shut down all water flows to the ditches this week because of the drought.

Fracking debate takes hold of Reese River Valley

Jul 28, 2014
Will Stone

A group of farmers and ranchers is suing the federal government in an effort to stop hydraulic fracturing in a valley near Austin, Nevada. Later this week, the Bureau of Land Management is auctioning off leases that could let companies explores for oil and gas there. While fracking has not taken off in Nevada, some say the state could have vast potential given new technology.

Reno has recently added 25 solar-powered trash compactors to the downtown corridor. After this trial run, many more could be popping up around town.

“Rather high-tech,” is how Sarah Polito, a spokesperson for Waste Management of Nevada, describes the compactors.

“Think mission impossible style, if you will,” Polito says. “There are laser beams within the compactor.”

Lake Tahoe faces the threat of invasive species

Jul 2, 2014

Fourth of July is just around the corner and that means it's prime boating season at Lake Tahoe. But with that comes the threat of invasive species. And wildlife officials are hoping no unwelcome creatures find their way into the lake this year.

Counties eye major land transfer in Nevada

May 20, 2014

Rancher Cliven Bundy's recent dispute with federal agents has highlighted the issue of who controls public land in Nevada. But lawmakers have actually been contemplating this issue ever since the last legislative session. 

 

Elko County Commissioner Demar Dahl is convinced the state could do a much better job than the federal government at managing and profiting from its public lands.

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