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$63 Million Wetland Restoration Could Be a Blueprint for How California Adapts to Climate Change. But It’s Taking Forever

An ambitious project to restore tidal wetlands on almost 1,200 acres of delta farmland has just completed its first phase, and the hoped-for transformation already is flourishing: River otters, rare seabirds and a single black bear have all returned to once-drained-out pastureland called Dutch Slough — results that hold promise for similar efforts toward many California environmental goals, including storage of greenhouse gases.

Investors Are Buying Up Rural Arizona Farmland to Sell the Water to Urban Homebuilders

In fields on the Arizona-California border, farmers draw water from the nearby Colorado River to grow alfalfa, irrigating crops as they have for decades.

That could change soon. An investment company has purchased nearly 500 acres of farmland and wants to strip it of its water and send it 200 miles across the desert to a Phoenix suburb, where developers plan to build thousands of new houses.

Valley’s Farm Organization Execs Look Ahead

With 500,000 acres of farmland in the Imperial Valley, agriculture continues to not only be vital to the economy of the region, but now perhaps more than ever the crops grown on that land are critical to the entire country and a world that is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Considering just how essential Imperial Valley agriculture is, strong voices ready to advocate on behalf of the farming community are pivotal — especially considering the ongoing challenges farmers face, like increasing costs of production and an ongoing need to protect the Valley’s water rights during this time of drought, as they work to get their crops from the fields to dinner tables.

 

It’s Some of America’s Richest Farmland. But What Is It Without Water?

In America’s fruit and nut basket, water is now the most precious crop of all.

It explains why, amid a historic drought parching much of the American West, a grower of premium sushi rice has concluded that it makes better business sense to sell the water he would have used to grow rice than to actually grow rice. Or why a melon farmer has left a third of his fields fallow. Or why a large landholder farther south is thinking of planting a solar array on his fields rather than the thirsty almonds that delivered steady profit for years.

County’s Updated Conservation Plan Aims to Save More San Diego Farmland

More San Diego farmland will be eligible for an agricultural conservation program under new rules the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved Wednesday.

San Diego has lost much of its farmland over the past decade. Since 2009, about 60,000 acres — 20 percent of San Diego County’s agricultural land — has been converted to other uses.

The county has tried to stem that decline through the Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement, which is called the PACE program.

Opinion: Water Partnerships Between Cities and Farms Would Help Prepare for a Changing Climate

San Joaquin Valley farms and Southern California cities are facing different but equally daunting water challenges. For Valley farmers, the requirement to achieve groundwater sustainability in coming years has heightened interest in expanding water supplies to reduce the need to fallow irrigated farmland. For Southern California, falling demands since the early 2000s have reduced water stress during normal and wet years, but a warming climate makes future droughts a major concern.

Sunday Special Report: Toxic Dust From Salton Sea Could Complicate Coronavirus Recovery

Health experts say the Salton Sea poses a health risk to the residents who live around it, especially in the age of coronavirus. The lake’s continued evaporation is already making Valley residents sick, and it could make virus patients even sicker. Farmlands in Imperial County use less water from the Colorado River than ever before. Most of the river’s water now goes to cities like San Diego and Los Angeles. That means less irrigation water drains into the Salton Sea. It’s rapidly shrinking.

Opinion: Here’s How Less than 10% of Farmland Could Solve the Colorado River’s Water Deficit

It is no exaggeration to say that a mega-drought not seen in 500 years has descended on the seven Colorado River Basin states: Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California. That’s what the science shows, and that’s what the region faces.

Farmland Owners Look to Solar As Groundwater Restrictions Loom

New solar energy installations may be headed to the valley portion of Kern County as investors, government officials and advocacy groups weigh options for reusing land that will have to be taken out of production as a result of state restrictions on groundwater pumping.

Photovoltaic solar arrays, for years an attractive investment for local farmland owners, would appear to align with California’s ambitious goal of meeting all its electricity needs with renewable energy.