drought

Burned cedars and salal at a property in Woodway, Washington, which has had a ban on fireworks for years.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

The governor’s office says there will be no state ban on fireworks. And local governments won’t be given authority to issue their own bans.

That’s because state law doesn’t permit it. But state law never imagined a heat wave like this to start the summer.

Cities in drought-plagued California took water conservation seriously in May. Residential water use went down by 28.9 percent in May, according to a press release from the State Water Resources Control Board.

This year’s drought is affecting Washington in all kinds of ways. It’s even threatening to make a potential government shutdown more painful. That would happen on July 1 unless a budget agreement is reached.

Jeff Marti, the Washington Department of Ecology’s drought coordinator, says the state won’t be able to grant emergency permits to access water if your well dries up or if river levels drop so low that your pipes no longer reach the water.

Travel up and down California farm country, the Central Valley, and you hardly hear people lamenting the lack of rain or how dry this past winter was. What you hear, from the agriculture industry and many local and national politicians, are sentiments like those expressed by Rep. Devin Nunes:

"Well, what I always like to say is that this is a man-made drought created by government," the Central Valley Republican says.

All signs are pointing to a strong El Niño developing by this fall according to an update from the National Weather Service Thursday.

Two technicians balance on a floating fish trap about the size of a double bed. They dip nets into the water and scoop out small fish and mats of vegetation. The fish are carefully placed in five-gallon buckets and the weed is casually tossed back into to river.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife techs are recording their catch from shallow side channel of the middle Klamath River. They're observing variety, inspecting the fish for signs of trouble, and packing up hatchery for disease testing at a lab.

Nelida Martinez, one of the farmers growing their businesses at Viva Farms, a farm incubator project
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

  Strawberries, beware. Blueberries and raspberries are ripening early this year.

A warm winter has given way to a hot spring, which means berries are ripening early this year in the Pacific Northwest. That’s great for some growers in the short term – and the rest of us hankering for juicy fruit – but it’s also created competition among farmers.

When television chef Nathan Lyon read about California's worsening drought earlier this year, he started thinking about the amount of water it takes to grow the food in recipes he creates.

That's when he and his girlfriend and culinary manager, Sarah Forman, decided to develop what they call "drought-friendly recipes."

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows almost all of eastern Oregon and parts of eastern Washington are now in severe drought.

The Obama Administration is expected to announce a new clean water rule in the next few days, which has some Northwest farm groups worried what new regulations could mean for their operations.

The rule has also drawn criticism from property rights groups and praise from environmentalists.

The weed-whacker is a frequent companion to the sounds of chirping birds and rustling pines at Ross Frank's ranch in Chumstick, Wash. With forested land on all sides, he's clearing dense brush beneath a stand of by his house.

"So we're turning that around manually and mimicking what fire would have done naturally," he says.

A member of a fire crew. wildfire
Flickr Photo/BC Gov Photos (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman speaks with Vaughn Palmer, columnist for the Vancouver Sun, about an early start to the wildfire season in British Columbia.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency Friday.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency due to low snowpack Friday.