Energy and Environment | KUNR

Energy and Environment

Michelle Bliss

The CDC has been sounding the alarm about the link between antibiotics in meat and antibiotic resistance in humans, but a new report finds that antibiotic-free options are still relatively scarce. Reno Public Radio’s Amy Westervelt talked to one Nevada rancher in Fallon who's made the switch.

"See how there's so much less fiber in this year's cow pie?"

Julia Ritchey

After four years of drought, the state wants to restrict the amount of groundwater being pumped for agriculture in the Smith and Mason valleys.  Reno Public Radio’s Julia Ritchey reports.

Farmers have already voluntarily cut back on their use of these supplemental wells, which they've relied more heavily on due to lack of surface water from the parched Walker River.

But Jason King, the state engineer, says it isn't enough in these dry conditions.

US Forest Service / U.S. Department of Agriculture

Last week, Congress set aside emergency disaster aid for fighting wildfires, but it's only a temporary fix.

In August, the U.S. Forest Service released an alarming statistic: For the first time in history, more than half the agency’s annual budget is going to fight wildfires, compared to 16 percent in 1995. Tom Blush, with the U.S. Forest Service, explains.

“The fires are sucking our funding from just about everything else we do. ”

Amy Westervelt

Donner Lake in Truckee holds some of the largest lake trout in California, but Reno Public Radio’s Amy Westervelt reports that Donner fish might not make for the healthiest meal.

Truckee residents take pride in having their own lake. At only 1.3 square miles compared to Tahoe’s nearly 200, Donner may be small, but the clear, cold lake, ringed by mountains is no less popular for swimming, paddleboarding, and fishing. It also boasts one of just a few sandy stretches in the area.

Julia Ritchey

Although it receives far less attention than Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake is one of Nevada's most picturesque desert oasis. But Pyramid faces a number of challenges as a recreational destination, including illegal dumping and increasing salinity levels. Today, as we begin our series called Beyond Tahoe: Exploring Our Waterways, reporter Julia Ritchey travels to Pyramid Lake to tell us its story.

It's a busy weekend at the Pelican boat launch at Pyramid Lake. A line of eager boaters wait to unload pontoons, jet skis and other watercraft at the bottom of the ramp.

Esther Ciammachilli

A team of scientists and business leaders from the Desert Research Institute in Reno is trying to change the way businesses make decisions that may be impacted by extreme weather. Reno Public Radio’s Esther Ciammachilli has more.

On a rainbow-colored map of the Las Vegas Strip, scientist Andrew Joros explains the focus of the new WINDS platform, which stands for Weather Intelligence and Numerical Decision Support

“Let’s say I want a time series of any kind of meteorological variable over the MGM. You can pull it up like this.”

Julia Ritchey

A dozen parks in Reno are now pesticide free. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey reports.

The two-year pilot program will study best methods and cost effective ways to maintain the city's parks without using herbicides and pesticides.

City Council approved the change this week. Councilwoman Naomi Duerr says they decided to pursue the project after hearing from concerned residents. 

The state's drought summit wrapped up Wednesday after three days of in-depth presentations from every type of water stakeholder in Nevada. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss has the details.

There was a lot of talk in Carson City this week about how to better manage, save, share, and measure our water. 

The EPA is announcing updates to smog regulations October 1st, and manufacturers are making one last push against the new rules with an ad campaign running in various Western states. While opponents of the rules are concerned about costs, the EPA says health savings will outweigh them.

Ad: “We import a lot from China: Electronics, toys, and … air pollution?”

Feds: Sage Grouse Does Not Need Endangered Listing

Sep 22, 2015
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

  The U.S. Interior Department says the greater sage grouse does not need federal protections across its 11-state Western range, which includes Nevada. Many say the agency has struck a balance in protecting the bird without hindering economic development, but not all Nevada officials agree. Reno Public Radio’s Julia Ritchey reports.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell says an unprecedented conservation effort protecting more than 67 million acres of land will greatly reduce threats to the greater sage-grouse and its breeding habitats. 

Julia Ritchey

For the first time in state history, Nevada water officials are preparing to restrict groundwater pumping for the Smith and Mason valleys. Farmers and ranchers there are already operating on thin margins because of the drought. Our reporter Julia Ritchey visited the agricultural community of Yerington to see how one farmer is coping.

"We'll start here; it's as a good as anywhere. You'll be able to see, like mine,  I have fields that have nothing growing just basically weeds because of no water... It’s basically fallowed because you can’t irrigate it."

NOAA/MODIS

We all know snowfall in the Sierras has been light in recent years, but new research reveals that 2015 marked a 500-year-low for snowpack in the region.

Julia Ritchey

  Water conservation dipped last month, according to new numbers from the Truckee Meadows Water Authority. As Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey reports, the reduction fell just shy of their goal.

Residents reduced their water usage by nine percent last month. That's a little short of the utility's voluntary reduction target of 10 percent — and the first month since May that customers didn't exceed TMWA’s goal.

Bill Hauck is a senior hydrologist at the authority. He says even after the hot, dry months are over, users should continue to cut back.

Amy Westervelt

The U.S. Forest Service is sounding the alarm about the skyrocketing cost of wildfires. The agency now spends more than half its budget dealing with fires, compared to 16 percent in 1995. This week KUNR’s news team is looking at new ways to cope with wildfires in our series, Putting Out The Fire. In the second story we look at a controversial new strategy that could help forests adapt to warming climates. 

 

J. Michael Johnson, National Park Service

Wildfires in the West are getting larger and more intense every year. Right now, 66 large fires are burning in 11 western states, consuming more than a million and a half acres. California and Nevada rank in the top 10 most wildfire-prone states in the country. This week our series Putting Out the Fire examines innovative approaches to fighting and preventing fire. In our first story, we look at some new thinking around fire, and ideas for protecting your home. 

  A major water agreement between California and Nevada is one step closer to reality more than three decades after it was first proposed. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey spoke with John Erwin of the Truckee Meadows Water Authority to explain the significance of the deal and how it will help in future droughts.

The Truckee River Operating Agreement will allow Nevada to better manage its waters, Erwin says.

Julia Ritchey

Officials at the 19th annual Lake Tahoe Summit on Monday said more federal funding is needed to preserve and restore the popular Alpine lake. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey was there and brings us this report.

It's been nearly two decades since President Bill Clinton first held a summit at Lake Tahoe and directed federal agencies to coordinate to protect the lake. 

TMWA

Residents of the Mt. Rose and Galena suburbs rely mostly on domestic wells for their water. But continued development and the drought have strapped those underground aquifers. Now, the Truckee Meadows Water Authority has a new strategy to supply these households. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey spoke with TMWA's John Enloe for more details.*

Enviro Groups Conserve Former Sierra Logging Tract

Aug 13, 2015
American River Conservancy

More than 10,000 acres of Sierra Nevada forest will become a living laboratory for scientists to study forest restoration and wildfire-reduction techniques. That’s thanks to a deal finalized last week by The Nature Conservancy, American River Conservancy and Northern Sierra Partnership to acquire the land, which connects the North Fork American River with the Granite Chief Wilderness.

In addition to restoring habitat in the forest for the endangered spotted owl, scientists plan to study the impacts of forest thinning on wildfires, water quality and drought.

University of Nevada, Reno

Seismologists say a year-long swarm of earthquakes in northwest Nevada has shown no signs of slowing down, and the potential is increasing for an even larger one. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey reports. 

The Nevada Seismological Lab have detected more than 5,600 earthquakes since last summer in the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge near the Oregon line. 

Ken Smith is a seismologist at the lab. He says it’s a rural area, but some ranchers and residents have felt them. 

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