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Rat poison used in marijuana grows harming wildlife

Pacific fisher is another victim of illegal marijuana grows.
Post-mortem tests on Pacific fishers that are part of an extensive UC study have determined that most had a significant amount of rodenticide in their bodies when they died, reported Kellie Flanagan in the Sierra News Online.

The fishers are being monitored by a team of scientists affiliated with the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project (SNAMP), a joint effort by the University of California, state and federal agencies and the public to study management of forest lands in the Sierra Nevada.

To learn the animals' habits and habitat, the SNAMP wildlife team has placed radio-tracking collars on about 100 fishers over the years, with around 30 collared at any given time. When animals being monitored die, they are collected to determine the cause. Anti-coagulants were found in the livers of 90 percent of the fishers.

A likely source is rodenticides left behind at illegal marijuana grows in the forest, the article said.

"SNAMP discovered the rodenticide poisoning issue in the fisher population, and we knew we needed to find some money to clean up the raided sites," said Anne Lombardo, SNAMP representative based in Oakhurst, Calif. "That's our contribution to putting science on the ground."

Nov. 5 - 14 about 100 volunteers and agency personnel cleaned up 13 Sierra Nevada marijuana cultivation sites to restore habitat, and remove risks to wildlife. The teams dismantled and remediated sites previously raided or partially cleaned up, and documented and removed all toxicants found.

Posted on Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at 2:13 PM

California enjoying a respite from the drought

Paul Vossen
Rain over the last few days in California, which some are describing as falling in "biblical" proportions, will bring welcome relief from the historic drought, if not mark its end, reported the Olive Oil Times.

"The storm will partially replenish water supplies, but there is still a long way to go," commented Dan Flynn of the UC Davis Olive Center.

The lack of rainfall the last few years has left many olive farms with low soil moisture, stressing the trees, said Paul Vossen, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Sonoma and Marin counties.

"Part of that stress influenced the crop load, which was lower than normal, and it also advanced the ripening of fruit," Vossen said. "This autumn harvest was at least two to three weeks early and was finished by Thanksgiving."

The story said the California drought cut U.S. olive oil production by 25 percent.

“The rainfall we are receiving right now is welcome for refilling the soil profiles, so that the olive trees can start off next spring with good growth,” Vossen said. “It is also a relief to see enough rain to start to see a replenishment of our reservoirs, so that irrigation water will once again be plentiful for next summer's needs. Even though we may get some temporary flooding, all in all, this rainfall is a welcome thing.”


Posted on Friday, December 12, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Almonds contribute $11 billion annually to California economy

Almonds are California's top ag export.
The California Almond Board released a report this week that said the almond industry contributes about $11 billion per year to the state's gross domestic product, reported Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee.

The report, prepared by the UC Agricultural Issues Center, calculated economic impacts of production, processing and marketing of the nuts. Almond-related activities generate 104,000 jobs statewide; 97,000 of those are in the Central Valley, the report says.

President of the Almond Board, Richard Waycott, said it is important for legislators, regulators and policyholders to recognize "the economic engine that the almond industry represents."

The article included the following facts about the California almond crop:

  • Almonds are California's leading agricultural export
  • The amount of land in almonds has nearly doubled in the past 20 years to almost a million acres
  • California produces 99 percent of the U.S. almond crop

According to the story, some environmentalists have criticized growers for expanding almond orchards during the drought. At a news conference, Daniel Sumner, director of the Ag Issues Center and lead author of the report, said farmers aren't deliberately planting orchards in regions with unstable water supplies.

“Every day in California agriculture, water is the No. 1 issue on everybody's mind,” Sumner said. “These guys aren't dummies. The first thing they're thinking about before you plant a tree is to have some source of water.”

Additional coverage of the report:

Study: Almond industry contributes $21.5 billion to economy
Tim Hearden, Capital Press

Posted on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Santa Clara County 4-H youth raise animals in the Silicon Valley

4-H youth conduct animal projects at the McClellan Ranch Preserve in Cupertino.
Amid the high-tech companies and the densely populated suburbs of Santa Clara County, UC Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development maintains a vital animal husbandry program at the McClellan Ranch Preserve, reported Allison Williams in the San Jose Mercury-News.

The story said about 15 percent of the Rolling Hills 4-H Club membership are involved with the farm, and a large number of club members participate in other programs, such as entomology, cooking, Lego robotics and archery. But the premise of their involvement is the same whether they're at the farm or learning to handle a bow and arrow.

4-H is providing youth with hands-on learning opportunities intentionally designed around four essential elements
necessary for positive youth development. The program provides them supervised independence, a sense of belonging with a positive group, a spirit of generosity and opportunities to master life's challenges.

4-H co-leader Karen Clayton said she's been involved for four years and decided to help with the pygmy goat project because of her daughter's involvement.

“I think it teaches them leadership skills,” she said, adding that it shows the members that they have a voice.

The McClellan Ranch Preserve, a 23-acre public park in Cupertino, can accommodate steer, sheep, pigs, goats, mini-horses and chickens. In addition, the Santa Clara County UCCE Master Gardener program maintains a vegetable garden on the property.

Posted on Monday, December 8, 2014 at 9:27 AM

UCCE advisor emeritus Bill Weir honored by state association

Bill Weir
Longtime UC Cooperative Extension advisor Bill Weir was honored for his outstanding contribution to agriculture by the California Association of Pest Control Advisers at their convention in Anaheim recently, reported Doane Yawger in the Merced Sun-Star.

Weir recently retired after 20 years of service as a part-time professor of plant sciences at Merced College.

Weir, 76, began work in the UC system in 1966 as a staff research associate at UC Davis. Weir, who holds a doctorate in soil science, retired from UCCE in 2002.

“Extension has been great for me,” he said when he retired from UCCE. “If I were independently wealthy, I still would have liked to do what I did during my career. That's how much I've enjoyed working in agriculture, helping farmers and being a part of extension."

When accepting the award from the state association, Weir expressed a similar sentiment: “If my name were Rockefeller, I would still be doing this same job. I love my work.”

With his own research and consulting company, Weir is now helping growers satisfy a new state law that says they must keep track of the nitrogen in their soils and determine the optimum amount to apply, the article said.

Read more here:

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Posted on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 3:32 PM

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