The Contra Costa Times ran a story today about the 2008 fire season, which many suspect will be long and burdensome. One of the experts quoted was William Stewart, a UC Cooperative Extension forestry specialist at UC Berkeley. The version of the story which appeared in the San Jose Mercury News, also under John Simermon's byline, says Stewart is a former research head with CalFire.
The story said a 114-year record low in precipitation statewide from March through May has launched what fire experts figure to be an extended summer of blazes and bad air
"Everybody is on full summer operational plans by now," Stewart was quoted in the story. "The challenge is, by the time August comes around, if everybody's been working overtime continuously, people are going to get sick, injured. They're going to be just exhausted. Machinery breaks. You always have a few aircraft accidents. Every once in a while they roll a fire truck. Bulldozers get jammed. Those are going to add up."
The National 4-H Council distributed a news release announcing stepped up efforts to engage youth in science, and indicated that California is one of five states that will lead a national initiative to expand the 4-H2O water conservation program.
The 4H20 program includes new curriculum in environmental science and the launch of 4-H2Online. California, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, and West Virginia were selected to lead the effort, which is funded by a $1.48 million grant from Toyota.
In the same release, the national 4-H office announced that Oct. 8 will be "National Youth Science Day." The event features a "National Science Experiment" - a designated science activity for youth across the country. Details of the experiment will be announced later this summer.
The news release also noted that 4-H's new science focus will resonate throughout its public service campaign. The campaign includes print and broadcast ads based on the theme: "One Million New Scientists. One Million New Ideas." The goal: Engage one million new youth in 4-H science, engineering, and technology programs by 2013.
The Sacramento Bee today ran a story about an ANR decision to close the Genetic Resources Conservation Program, based at UC Davis. Reporter Maddalena Jackson spoke to program director Patrick McGuire and attended a "farewell coffee" last Wednesday to gather information for her story.
Since the GRCP's inception in 1985, the program collected more than a half million plant samples representing some 13,000 species. The collections are repositories for scientists looking to adapt crops to new threats, such as evolving insects and diseases, climate change and drought.
However, the story said that, according to UC officials, GRCP's successes were too limited to justify its expense. McGuire and his predecessor Calvin Qualset have accepted the shutdown, the article says.
Telling quotes from the story:
"We've been starved out of existence." - Qualset.
"No elected official has this on their radar." - McGuire
There "aren't any prospects for increased funding. We're hoping for better days." - Pam Kan-Rice, assistant director of ANR Governmental and External Relations
"Genetic reserves play an important role, if California agriculture is going to adapt. I don't think that's hit home yet." - McGuire
When Newsday's Erica Marcus had a burning question about ripening fruit, she turned to UC Davis post harvest experts. Marcus writes a weekly column for the magazine's Web site that answers "burning questions" about food.
In the past, she's helped readers who want to avoid soggy stirfry, identify whole grains, and know exactly when to cover or uncover a pot cooking on the stove. This week, she answered for readers: "Which fruits ripen after they are picked - and why?"
"For the lowdown on ripening," she wrote, "I called the postharvest information center at the University of California, Davis, and the California Tree Fruit Agreement."
The next 300 words of her column give details about a complex process involving starch, sugar, and cell walls of pineapples, cherries, grapes, citrus fruits, berries, watermelon peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots, cantaloupe and honeydew.
The St. Helena Star reported today on a sad coincidence for the Napa County viticulture industry. Within the last year, the three men who have held the position of Napa County UC Cooperative Extension viticulture advisor since 1952 passed away.
Jim Lider, farm advisor from 1952 to 1972, died Nov. 19, 2007
Keith Bowers, farm advisor from 1972 to 1987, died May 21, 2008
Ed Weber, farm advisor from 1988 to 2007, died December 31, 2007.
The story focused on the most recent passing, that of Bowers last month. The article noted that Bowers was chosen Farm Advisor of the Year in 1984, when he also was named president of the California Association of Farm Advisors. He co-authored the “Outstanding Paper of the Year” in viticulture for the American Society of Enologists in 1978, with Lider and N. Ferrari.