Energy and Environment

State To Curb Pumping In Smith, Mason Valleys

Oct 7, 2015
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. ”

Is Something Fishy At Donner Lake?

Oct 5, 2015
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.

As Pyramid Lake Popularity Grows, So Does Trash

Oct 5, 2015
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.

WINDS Of Change: Next Generation Of Weather Intelligence

Sep 30, 2015
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.”

A Dozen Reno Parks Now Pesticide Free

Sep 24, 2015
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. 

Manufacturers Push Nevada To Oppose New Smog Rules

Sep 22, 2015

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. 

Short On Water, Farmer Tries Desert Ducks

Sep 16, 2015
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."