Water

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.

Read more

6:37am

Wed March 19, 2014
Water

Colorado Leads The Way On 'Small Hydro'

Steve Fletcher, manager of the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association, looks out over the South Canal, a small hydro project east of Montrose, Colo.
Sam Fuqua RMCR

For much of the 20th century, hydroelectric technology led to the construction of giant dams across the American West and around the world. Big hydro projects have a big impact on surrounding ecosystems, Colorado is at the center of a growing move toward hydropower on a smaller scale.

Read more

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.

Read more

1:21am

Fri February 28, 2014
The Salt

Drought Could Dry Up Nevada Dairy Farmers' Expansion Plans

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 1:13 pm

There are about 2,000 dairy cows on Pete Olsen's fifth-generation farm in northern Nevada. A new milk processing plant is now putting pressure on Olsen and other dairy farmers to expand the size of their herds. But with the ongoing drought, farmers are struggling to get enough feed for the cows they already have.
Kirk Siegler/NPR

When Pete Olsen talks about drought on his fifth-generation dairy farm in Fallon, Nev., he's really talking about the snowpack 60 miles to the west in the Sierra Nevada.

The Sierras, Olsen says, are their lifeblood.

That is, the snowmelt from them feeds the Truckee and Carson rivers and a tangle of reservoirs and canals that make this desert bloom. Some of the highest-grade alfalfa in the world is grown here. And it makes perfect feed for dairy cows, because it's rich in nutrients.

Read more

4:03pm

Fri February 7, 2014
Olympics

Boulder Nonprofit Sounds Alarm On Sochi’s Environmental Woes

A Sochi road during construction of the 2014 Olympic venue.
Environmental Watch on North Caucasus

As the world focuses its attention on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Boulder-based Global Greengrants is raising environmental and civil liberties concerns about the event.

Read more

Pages