The Powerhouse Fire burned about 30,000 acres in the Angeles National Forest in the spring of 2013.
Climate change is forcing the US Forest Service to rethink how it fights large wildfires. Global warming has increased the intensity of fires, forcing the USFS to spend more and more of its money fighting them. Now the agency has decided that it should be less aggressive in attacking big blazes, so long as they are not threatening property.
In 1991, the US Forest Service’s spent 13 percent of its budget on fire management. Today, because of climate change, that figure is more than 50 percent, officials say.
The change is visible at the top. Three years ago, the USFS added a chief climate advisor. Agency veteran Dave Cleaves holds the job; he’s been with the Forest Service for more than 20 years. He says forest managers used to consider global warming as a future problem, "but now we’re finding more and more it is an issue of the present and the future."
Courtesy Hope for the Hills
Chino Hills residents have waged a 6-year campaign against high voltage transmission lines wedged into narrow right-of-ways among homes that Southern California Edison says will connect Kern County wind energy to the LA Basin.
The California Public Utilities Commission has decided to put a stretch of high-voltage transmission lines underground through a densely-populated stretch of Chino Hills.
The decision means that Southern California Edison crews will remove parts of the Techachapi Renewable Transmission Project that are there now. According to the PUC, the cost for putting the power lines underground $224 million, including a $17 million contribution from Chino Hills in the form of property.
Last month, an administrative law judge analyzing the project said such a move would be too expensive. But the president of the PUC, Michael Peevey, offered an alternate proposal, including underground lines.
“I know undergrounding costs more, but I believe in this instance the costs are manageable and relatively minor considering the overall well-being of the populace in doing so,” Peevey said.
Water managers in Mammoth Lakes say the creek is the town's lifeblood. A settlement between the Mammoth Community Water District and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power preserves supplies for the mountain town while satisfying LA's claimed rights.
Los Angeles and Mammoth Lakes said Thursday they have ended a lengthy legal battle over water rights in the eastern Sierra.
Mammoth Lakes says Mammoth Creek is its lifeblood. But it also feeds into the Owens River, which pours into L.A.'s aquaduct. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has argued that its water rights were superior, and that Mammoth's use of the creek interfered with L.A.'s supply.
The DWP and Mammoth are calling the settlement a win-win. Mammoth retains the right to use the amount of water it does now, and will maintain rights to the water it anticipates using well into the century.
In exchange, the Mammoth Community Water District will pay the DWP $3.4 million to set up water conservation and efficiency projects around the creek and the Owens Valley, and make another payment of several million dollars in about 40 years.
Yosemite National Park.
The National Park Service now says it hopes to finalize a key planning document for the Merced River - a plan that will shape how visitors experience Yosemite National Park - by the end of the year, rather than this summer.
The delay comes after a contentious Congressional hearing in the House Committee on Natural Resources.
KPCC reported back in March that the plan drew fire from several quarters; folks were upset about the loss of amenities. Some of the groups I talked to were on yesterday's witness list.
In a comment letter on the Merced plan, Wendy Brown-Barry, one of the founders of Yosemite for Everyone, wrote that none of the alternatives proposed for the Merced River corridor were acceptable:
We don’t believe that the WSRA [Wild and Scenic Rivers Act] intended to take away something that was already there if it was not causing degradation. In Chapter 7, in the Facilities and Services chart of the EIS you show that the Curry Village Raft Rental, the Curry Village Ice Rink, the Curry Village stables, the Commercial Horseback Day Rides in Yosemite Valley, the Curry Village Bike Rental, and the Ahwahnee Swimming Pool, do not affect the River Values, and that there is no required action or mitigation measures. So you have no justification for removing them.
We reported on the news that LADWP upped its rebate last week. Cash-for-grass programs like this aren't new. Still, it seems like a good time to recap how they work, since there's money out there in other communities besides L.A., too.
Why do water utilities care if I rip out my grass, anyway?
Two reasons: one, your lawn is thirsty. Outdoor landscaping generally accounts for about 60 percent of water use in Southern California; sometimes that figure goes as high as 70 percent. And two, southern California in general has less water than it needs. Agencies already import water from other places, whose own supplies are imperiled by climate change and other environmental considerations. Just about everyone’s trying to conserve.
What do I have to do to get money?
Different cities have different specific qualifications. Generally, you have to submit proof that you’ve replaced your lawn with less thirsty landscaping. In Los Angeles, the DWP makes you pre-qualify for the rebate by applying on line; customers have to include a picture of their lawn, so the DWP knows you don’t just have a dead patch of dirt that you’re NOT watering now. Pasadena wants proof to that effect, too.