Energy and Environment

Democratic Senator Harry Reid says the designation of a sprawling national monument in rural Nevada last week was not part of an effort to fend off a nuclear waste dump. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports.

In an interview Monday with KNPR in Las Vegas, the outgoing senator was asked whether the designation of the Basin and Range National Monument was meant to prevent the construction of a railroad that would ship nuclear waste to the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

Nevada's New National Monument Draws Criticism

Jul 10, 2015
Bureau of Land Management

President Barack Obama used executive powers Friday to designate a huge swath of Southern Nevada as a new national monument, but the move has drawn criticism from several local lawmakers. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports. 

The president's decision will protect more than 1,100-square miles of desert and mountain terrain by creating the Basin and Range National Monument. U.S. Senator Harry Reid and other Democrats are hailing the move as historic.

The Truckee Meadows Water Authority is now using drought reserves to meet customer demand.

Usually, surface water from the Truckee River provides 90 percent of what area customers use, but since river flows are so low, the authority has now tapped into its upstream drought reserves in Boca Reservoir. 

"We actually anticipated being in this position several weeks ago," says Bill Hauck, senior hydrologist for the agency, "but the rain we had in May brought a significant amount of rainfall which found its way to the river. It basically enhanced our supply by several weeks."

Rains Help Water Supply

Jun 11, 2015
Reno Public Radio

The rain coupled with customer response to the drought in northern Nevada has led to good news for the water supply. 

 

The Truckee Meadows Water Authority reports water production for May was 19 percent lower than the same month in 2013. That equals approximately half a billion gallons in saved water.  

Drought Forcing Rattlesnakes Into Populated Areas

May 19, 2015
National Park Service

Nevada's warming weather means reptiles like rattlesnakes will be out during the daytime hours - and when that's the case, they can pose dangerous threats to residents.

Ninety percent of rattlesnake bites can be avoided if the animal is left alone. That's according to Chris Healy from the Nevada Department of Wildlife. He says many snake bites result from people approaching, rather than avoiding the snake.

With historically high temperatures, low humidity, and dry, dry land, Northern Nevada is facing what could be a devastating fire season. For our ongoing series on the drought and all its ripple effects, Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss ventured out to Washoe Valley where local firefighters have been preparing for what this summer may bring.  

Greg Jackson is an operator for the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District, and he’s hiking through the woods to a half-dead, towering pine tree that his crew will cut down for practice. 

University of Nevada, Reno

Out on the range, the drought means a lot of things—not having enough water to quench the thirst of your cattle or not having enough feed growing where you need it most.

And then there’s the danger of a wildfire.

All of these problems are leading many ranchers to ship their animals east. Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss spoke to Bryan Masini to learn more. He owns ranches outside Yerington and Elko. 

  

Alexa Ard

The Truckee Meadows Water Authority is asking customers to voluntarily cut their water usage by ten percent. To figure out how to actually do that, we reached out to local experts who offered these tips:

Tip #1: Monitor and adjust your irrigation system

People use four times more water in the summer to irrigate their lawns. Here's Master Gardener Wendy Hanson-Mazet from the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension with a tip on how to cut back on that amount.

Tip #2: Use mulch

This time last year, Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss visited Rick Lattin in Fallon where they toured his farm and talked about Lattin’s growing concern for his crops, especially the alfalfa.

Now, with yet another harvest threatened by the ongoing drought, Michelle checked up on Lattin to find out how he and other farmers in that community are holding up.

www.fws.gov

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.

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