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Posts Tagged: Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Farmers invite visitors with new farm trail maps

The Sacramento River Delta Grown Agritourism Association map brochure invites, “Drive along winding rivers and sloughs in the heart of the California Delta; Visit quaint historic towns, shop at rustic farm stands or pick your own fresh fruit and vegetables; Taste Delta wines, picnic by the river, and enjoy the peaceful pace among generational family farms.”

The Capay Valley Farm Trail Map lists more than 40 farms in the Cache Creek watershed, and explains, “Capay Valley is a remarkable stretch of fertile land and rolling hills, home to a host of small and mid-size farms, natural wonders, and outstanding events…”

The North Yuba Grown Farm Trail Map brochure encourages visitors to “Enjoy the Flavors of North Yuba … Some olive trees in the area are more than 100 years old, and are still producing excellent olive oils. The vines cultivated for wine are forced to dig deep for water and nutrients, resulting in smaller yields but expressing intense flavors.”

As Californians' interest in local food and farming increases, farmers in many parts of the state are finding ways to invite their urban and suburban neighbors out to the farms to taste, tour, play and learn. Three groups of growers, Capay Valley Grown in Yolo County, North Yuba Grown in Yuba and Butte, and Sacramento River Delta Grown in Sacramento County, have just published new farm trail maps that promote agritourism in their unique farming regions. The maps are part of a UC Small Farm Program project, funded by a CDFA Specialty Crop Block grant, called, “Building a Farm Trail: Developing effective agritourism associations to enhance rural tourism and promote specialty crops.”

Each of the map brochures is a product of collaboration among the region's farmers and vintners, coordinated by the Small Farm Program and supported by a team of marketing, tourism and economic development professionals. The goals of the project include creation of maps, but also, more importantly, training and support for each group of growers in building sustainable and effective collaborative marketing associations that connect with the larger rural tourism community in their regions. Each group is now distributing their new maps, and is also working with a website designer to redesign their websites for clarity and customer appeal.

The Sacramento River Delta group put on their Wine and Produce Passport Weekend in early August to debut their maps. North Yuba Grown is sponsoring the North Yuba Harvest Festival, to be held on September 27 and 28, and Capay Valley Grown is planning an Open Farm Day on October 5 this year. The groups of growers will have a chance to share their experiences with each other at a regional workshop in November, and with other California agritourism operators at a statewide agritourism summit to be held in April 2015.

The California Statewide Agritourism Summit, organized by the UC Small Farm Program as part of the same project, will bring together agritourism associations and others involved in California agritourism from throughout the state to learn from each other. The summit will include planning sessions for the continuation of statewide farm trail and agritourism association networking and skill-sharing. For more information, please click here or contact UC Small Farm Program Agritourism Coordinator Penny Leff, (530) 752-7779.


Visitors tour a farm in the Sacramento Delta region during pear harvest season.
Posted on Monday, September 8, 2014 at 2:17 PM

UC hosts water discussion in San Ramon

A group of Contra Costa County citizens brought together yesterday by UC Cooperative Extension agreed that the state needs to improve water infrastructure to store more water, improve water conservation efforts and improve water management to mitigate problems in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region.

Thursday's discussion was one in a series being held by the UCCE Community Water Conversations Project, which aims to provide California citizens with an opportunity to discuss and learn about water policy options in a facilitated, non-threatening and positive environment.

Many participants in Thursday's conversation believe the Delta water issue will reach a crisis point if efforts aren't made to strengthen infrastructure and promote conservation, according to an article in the San Ramon Patch. Political disillusionment is also a common feeling expressed by many forum participants, according to Jodi Cassell, natural resources advisor for the Contra Costa County Cooperative Extension.

"I think in this country, especially now, people are looking for ways on their own to know as much as they can about very complex issues because they don't feel they can go to governmental agencies to get what they need," Cassell was quoted in the newspaper article. "These conversations will hopefully guide them through a part of public policy as multi-faceted as this state's water usage and make them more engaged in the political process that drives it."

Craig Paterson, project manager and moderator of Thursday's forum, said the organizers wish to gather a range of opinions to share with policy makers that will inform decisions in which everybody wins. In January, project staff will finalize video and written reports on the forum's participants and their views.

In a UC Green Blog post, director of UC Cooperative Extension in Solano County Carole Paterson shared common themes that have emerged from a preliminary review of 10 water conversations that took place this year. The themes, she said, are:

  • Frustration. People believe the public policy process is flawed.
  • Education. People do not understand what is happening to their water. The issues are extremely complex and over the years, layer upon layer of legislation, lawsuits, court decisions and media reports have muddied the water.
  • Science. People are concerned that science is being manipulated by various stakeholders to support a particular point of view.

Farmland in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Farmland in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Posted on Friday, October 15, 2010 at 10:05 AM

Farm revenues down just 3 percent due to water losses

The most recent estimates of job losses due to cuts in water allocations from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are far lower than was first predicted, according to an article published last week in the Contra Costa Times.

In early 2009, UC Davis economist Richard Howitt predicted the drought and new restrictions on Delta pumping would cost 95,000 jobs, but he revised the figure downward a number of times. Even though, the old number is still sometimes used, recently by Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, the article said.

"Yes, it's a problem when candidates don't use the most recent and accurate figures," Howitt said in an e-mail to reporter Mike Taugher. "I have tried to correct this, but this combined report should help put some of the outdated values to rest."

Current estimates of lost farm revenue in agriculture because of water shortages are $340 million (by Jeffrey Michael, director of the Business Forecasting Center at the University of Pacific) and $370 million (by Howitt). In both cases, that represents a less than 3 percent decline in San Joaquin Valley farm revenues. Job losses are estimated to be between 5,500 and 7,500 jobs.

Posted on Monday, October 4, 2010 at 10:48 AM

Talking about water

At a recent public meeting held in Contra Costa County by UC Cooperative Extension, a female cattle rancher representing a family that has owned land in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for generations dumped out a grocery bag with dozens of envelopes onto the table in front of her.

“This is the amount of mail I get in one week from agency people," she said, her voice trembling with anger. "They want to come onto my land and look at where they want to put big tubes to carry water down south. My family has been on this property for a long time. It’s my family’s land.”

For this woman and many others, UCCE directors in the five Delta counties opened the flood gates when they invited the public to share their feelings about water. Ten meetings were hosted to give ordinary citizens a chance to speak.

“There is a lot of frustration in the Delta region,” said Carole Paterson, director of UC Cooperative Extension in Solano County. “People felt their voices weren’t being heard.”

Paterson and county directors in Yolo, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties held community conversations in local libraries and invited the public to have their say. The participants’ thoughts will be synthesized in a written report and some of their comments - videotaped during the sessions - will be part of an audio-visual presentation.

A few common themes emerged from a preliminary review of the 10 conversations, Paterson said.

Frustration. People believe the public policy process is flawed.

Education. People do not understand what is happening to their water. The issues are extremely complex and over the years, layer upon layer of legislation, lawsuits, court decisions and media reports have muddied the water.

Science. People are concerned that science is being manipulated by various stakeholders to support a particular point of view.

The reports on the water conversations will be shared with county boards of supervisors, farm bureaus, legislators, agencies and individuals involved in the state’s water policy.

The Delta faces a host of problems, including invasive species, water degradation due to urban and agricultural runoff, aging infrastructure and the threat of flooding should the sea level rise due to climate change.

“We weren’t looking for solutions,” Paterson said. “We just wanted to give citizens a chance to share their experiences."

Farmland in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. (Photo by Roy Tennant,
Farmland in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. (Photo by Roy Tennant,

Posted on Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 1:32 PM

San Francisco paper reports on *water war*

A perspective piece in the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle wrapped up decades of California water wrangling and pondered a possible end to the state's "water war."

The article centered on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which 150 years ago was a marshy estuary with a constant ebb and flow of saltwater from the San Francisco Bay and fresh water from rivers draining the mountains, said the article, written by freelancer Matt Jenkins.

Today, the article said, after 150 years of "spirited remodeling," the area has been transformed into a tangle of waterways with farms and towns on levee-protected islands. Fresh water from the delta is channeled to agricultural fields for irrigation and to urban water users.

Last fall, the Legislature proclaimed two "coequal goals" for the delta: providing a more reliable water supply for the state and protecting, restoring and enhancing the delta ecosystem.

"We've got to get this right," Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael was quoted in the story. "We're not going to have too many more chances to save the estuary."

Jenkins spoke to UC Davis fisheries biologist Bill Bennett, who serves as an adviser to the state Water Resources Control Board on flow criteria. Working with a team of UC Davis researchers, Bennett helped create a conceptual framework for establishing ecologically beneficial flows.

While the Department of Water Resources and water users report uncertainty about the ecological effects of pumping water for ag and human use, Bennett says several things are certain:

"What we're certain about is that delta smelt are at the lowest levels ever. And we're certain that the flows in the estuary don't go the way flows in an estuary should go."

The members of the state board will vote to adopt flow criteria on Aug. 3.

The fate of delta smelt is one issue in California's water wars.
The fate of delta smelt is one issue in California's water wars.

Posted on Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 7:59 AM

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