Drought

5:00am

Tue May 20, 2014
Cattle

Drought And Foreign Markets Keep Beef Prices High

A calf outside of Scottsbluff Nebraska, an area that is seeing a cattle boom.
Credit Luke Runyon / KUNC

California ranchers, despite near-record beef prices, are shrinking their cattle herds in response to one of the most severe droughts the state has ever faced, and many Colorado ranchers are taking advantage.

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1:26am

Tue April 22, 2014
The Salt

Fields And Farm Jobs Dry Up With California's Worsening Drought

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 4:47 pm

Recent rains kept Suzanne and Mike Collins' orange grove alive, but the rainy season is ending. If they don't get federal irrigation water by this summer, their trees will start dying.
Kirk Siegler/NPR

On a recent afternoon on the main drag of Orange Cove, Calif., about a dozen farm workers gather on the sidewalk in front of a mini-mart.

One man sits on a milk crate sipping a beer. A few others scratch some lotto tickets. Salvador Perez paces back and forth with his hands stuffed in the pockets of his jeans.

If there is no water, there's no work, he says in Spanish.

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1:21am

Wed March 26, 2014
The Salt

What A Long, Strange Trip: Salmon Are Trucking To The Pacific Ocean

Pacific Or Bust: Fingerling Chinook salmon are dumped into a holding pen as they are transferred from a truck into the Sacramento River Tuesday in Rio Vista, Calif. From here, they'll be towed downstream for a bit, then make their own way out to the Pacific Ocean.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

In California, severe drought has imperiled millions of juvenile salmon who now face waters too dry to let them make their usual spawning trip to the ocean. So state and federal officials have embarked on a drastic plan to save them – by letting them hitch a ride on tanker trucks.

Over the next two and a half months, some 30 million Chinook salmon will be trucked from five hatcheries in the state's Central Valley to waters where they can make their way to the ocean.

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2:31am

Thu March 20, 2014
The Salt

Nevada Farmers Hack The Drought By Switching Up The Crops

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 10:25 am

An alfalfa farmer on the Duck Valley Reservation in Nevada laser levels a field to more evenly and efficiently distribute water. While alfalfa is still the main crop for many farmers in northern Nevada, some are experimenting with grapes, too.
USDAgov/Flickr

Take a drive around the perimeter of Colby Frey's farm in Nevada and it's clear you're kind of on an island — an oasis of green surrounded by a big, dusty desert.

Nearby, a neighbor's farm has recently gone under. And weeds have taken over an abandoned farmhouse in the next property over.

"It's just kind of sad, because it seems like it's kind of slowly creeping towards us," says Frey, a fifth-generation farmer trying to adapt to the current drought in California and in the far West.

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3:12pm

Sun March 2, 2014
The Salt

Even In A Desert, Drought Spells Trouble For Ranchers

Originally published on Sun March 2, 2014 5:09 pm

No snowpack, no hay: In the northern Nevada, cattle feed is getting hard to come by, as sources of water diminish in supply.
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

In northern Nevada, a place famous for its wide, open spaces and expansive cattle operations, ranchers are in a bind due to the historic drought.

Much of the state is desert, so when people talk about drought, they're really talking about the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. It's at barely 20 percent of average.

This is a huge concern for farmers and ranchers like Julie Wolf, because the mountains store the snow that melts and feeds rivers and reservoirs. These bodies of water then allow the desert to bloom with grass and alfalfa for her cattle.

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