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Even With All The Rain Crews Are Prepping For A Big Fire Season

California fire officials are already preparing for a hot fire season despite the ample rain and snow the regions received. FM89's Ezra David Romero reports. Jeremiah Wittwer with Fresno County Cal Fire says there's a lot of extra grass and brush growing in the region because of the rain. He says come summer when the vegetation dries out there'll be a major fire hazard. "In the lower foothills and even down on the valley floor grass is already is a foot to a foot and a half tall and we're not even getting into the spring months yet," says Wittwer. "So the fuels are more readily available to burn." Wittwer says he has 40 people working daily to remove dead trees along roads and highways, but there will still be tree and brush die off because of years of drought and the bark beetle. "Even though that we had the moisture that we had over the winter, above normal, it's not going to bring that vegetation back to a healthy level around the county," says Wittwer. "There will be some increased

Outdoorsy 5: Playing In The Snow

Today, we're taking advantage of the season and venturing out into the snow. We've gotten a lot of it this winter, so it's the perfect opportunity for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Or at least snowball fights. A native New Englander, Kerry loves the winter—as long as she's bundled up and warm. Ezra: not so much. But as far as winter activities go, snowshoeing is his jam. And who doesn't love seeing their breath in the air and hearing ice crunching under their feet? In this episode, we'll take you to a few places near the valley to play in the snow, we'll help you get equipped, and then tantalize you with a sugary delicacy that's wildly popular in Shaver Lake. Yosemite by Snowshoe So far this winter, we've taken two snowshoeing trips—each with varying success. The first was to what Kerry regards as the most magical place in wintertime: Yosemite National Park. We went with a few friends friends over Christmas weekend when a big storm rolled through the Valley. We drove in as the

From Fresno With Love: Valley Chihuahuas Welcomed In Midwest

Animal shelters in the San Joaquin Valley are inundated every year with thousands of rescued dogs, cats and even pigs. But what happens to the animals that no one seems to want? While some shelters may euthanize, others go to great lengths to keep them alive. One group of animal rescuers has found a creative solution to a supply and demand problem. It's almost 11 p.m. in an industrial zone of south Fresno. A small back lot near Highway 99 is dark except for the headlights of a van with tinted windows. Hooded figures load up the van with plastic crates . One opens the door to survey the cargo. "Hello everybody," she shouts, as dozens of tiny tails wag against their crates and excited barking fills the air. "The condo is ready!" Brenda Mitchell is co-founder of Animal Compassion Team in Fresno, and she's here with a troop of other animal shelter workers. Their cargo? Chihuahuas. They're rescues, strays and fosters being sent off to a new life. "We have Lisa, Flower, Princess Leia, Luke

Vatican-Sponsored Event Draws World Faith Leaders To Modesto

Faith leaders from all over the world have traveled to Modesto this week for a meeting dedicated to social justice. FM89's Kerry Klein says it's the first event of its kind in the U.S. It's called the World Meeting of Popular Movements, and it's convened by The Vatican--though Pope Francis won't be making an appearance. The meeting is a chance for faith leaders and advocates to discuss migration, workers' rights and housing, and the environment. "We believe that by bringing people of faith and grassroots leaders together in dialogue, we will be able to take steps forward for racial, economic and social justice," says Thomas Weiler, lead organizer for Faith In Fresno. The three previous world meetings were held in Rome and Bolivia. Weiler says this year's San Joaquin Valley location was intentional. "We are the epicenter of so many forces of exclusion--in terms of the impact of the economy, that leaves so many people behind, and the impact of immigration issues on families, now more

With Heightened Focus On Dam Safety, Lake Isabella Plans Move Forward

When Isabella Dam was built back in the 1950's northeast of Bakersfield it was hailed as a great engineering achievement. The structure held back the mighty Kern River to provide water for farmers and communities, and helped protect the Southern San Joaquin Valley from floods. But a little over 10 years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers learned that the dam had three problems. Geologists discovered an active fault runs under the dam. Hydrologists learned that there was a risk the earthen dam could be overtopped during an extreme flood event, and engineers discovered the structure had seepage issues at the base. According to Kern County officials, in a worst case scenario with the reservoir full and a failure of the main dam, some parts of Bakersfield could be under 20 feet of water or more. That possibility led the Corps, which runs Lake Isabella and the dam, to change the way they operate the dam lowering by water levels to reduce the risk, and to begin designing a solution. So

At The World Ag Expo Farmers Remain Optimistic About Trump, But Wary

The 50th Annual World Ag Expo in Tulare has now officially come to a close. The massive fair draws farmers and agricultural professionals from all over the world to check out the newest in farm equipment and technology as well as cut deals and make professional contacts. This year, the buzz around the show wasn't just about machinery, it was also about politics. Despite losing California badly in November's election, President Donald Trump drew broad support from the state's agriculture industry. Among the farmers Valley Public Radio interviewed at the show this week, there was broad general hope about the future of the agriculture industry under President Trump. A particularly strong advocate was Robert Franklin, a Trump voter, who splits his time between growing apples in eastern Utah and raisins in Brazil. He is hopeful Trump will remove what he sees as government interference, like overtime rules and environmental regulation, which he thinks makes agriculture work harder. "Just

State Data Show Nearly 300 Water Systems Out Of Compliance

The state has released new data on California's drinking water--and they reveal almost 300 public water systems are out of compliance with state standards. The data and an interactive map are part of the state water board's new Human Right to Water Portal . They reveal 292 non-compliant water systems across the state. Violations include unsafe levels of arsenic, nitrates, and other contaminants, as well as non-compliant treatment techniques. "When you think about safe and affordable drinking water, you might think about Flint, for example, but what most Californians are not aware of is that right here in our own state, over a million Californians are exposed to unsafe drinking water each year," says Jonathan Nelson, policy director of the non-profit Community Water Center. The San Joaquin Valley contains dozens of non-compliant water systems, which stretch from Humboldt County to the Mexican border. Nelson says determining the extent of the problem is the first step of many. "We can

Health Law Repeal Could Hit County Budgets Hard

Much of the focus on the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act has been on the newly insured people that stand to lose their coverage. But there could be consequences that reach far beyond just people's health care and impact nearly every taxpayer in the Central Valley. Valley Public Radio's Jeffrey Hess reports repealing the law without a replacement has some county lawmakers worried. Story transcript to follow

Japanese-Americans To Mark 75th Anniversary Of Internment Order

On February 19, 1942 President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Oorder 9066 which led to the forced removal of Japanese-American citizens from their homes and farms on the west coast, placing them in internment camps. Many of the families that were rounded up and sent to the camps came from the San Joaquin Valley. Many stayed there for years, and some lost their homes and farms. Now the local Japanese-American community is marking the 75 th anniversary of the order with ceremonies and a new exhibit at Fresno State's Henry Madden Library. We invited Fresno County Superior Court Judge Dale Ikeda, of the Japanese American Citizens League to join us to talk about the exhibit, and how this dark chapter of American history remains relevant today.

Construction On Bakersfield's Centennial Corridor Freeway Nears

For years going from east to west in Bakersfield has been a major ordeal. The State Route 58 freeway for decades has hit a dead-end where it meets Highway 99. Travelers on the highway have been force to take the surface streets of Rosedale Highway to continue traveling on SR 58. That soon could change though, as the Centennial Corridor Freeway project aims to connect SR 58 from Highway 99 to the new Westside Parkway freeway, which already exists north of the Kern River. The project is slated to begin construction in a few months. But there are challenges. The neighborhood of West Park lies in the way, with dozens of homes either in the path of the future freeway or adjacent to the planned structure. Those homes are in Ward 2, which is represented by new Bakersfield City Council Member Andrae Gonzales, who joined us to talk about the latest progress on the project on Valley Edition.

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