Author Archives: Alex Breitler

Buildings vanishing!

Shocking news: It’s been snowing in the Sierra. A lot. The Carson Pass Information Station at the apex of Highway 88 has all but vanished, as you can see. The statewide snowpack is 180 percent as of this morning. It’s already larger than the average April 1 snowpack, which is something, considering the fact that [...]

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Postscript on the ‘tunnel tree’

Last word on the demise of the Pioneer Cabin Tree: Amid all of the tears, and the anger directed toward the crude capitalists who carved a hole in her trunk and hastened her destruction, it’s worth pointing out that the magnificent tree had already been placed in a weakened state — at the hands of [...]

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Moyle on latest smelt numbers

Update: Fixed typo below. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates 13,000 smelt are in the Delta, not 1,300. Belatedly, here are some observations from native fish guru Peter Moyle about the latest Delta smelt surveys and the lack of a rebound last year, despite more water flowing through the system. The bottom line: The [...]

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RIP to the ‘tunnel tree’

Calaveras Big Trees’ famous tunnel tree, more formally known as the Pioneer Cabin Tree, was toppled in today’s storm. Park volunteer Jim Allday of Arnold discovered the sad scene and took these photos.     Word spread quickly tonight. Some expressed anger. It seems logical, after all, that the tree’s demise may have been hastened [...]

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Tunnel construction in 2018?

A press release last week about the release of 97,000 pages of final environmental documents for the Delta tunnels says construction will begin “as soon as 2018.” We’ve heard projections like that before. In January 2009, the Schwarzenegger administration said construction on a peripheral canal — the predecessor to the tunnels — would start in [...]

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Does water bill override biops? Sure looks like it.

There was much talk Friday night on the floor of the U.S. Senate about whether the controversial California drought legislation now awaiting the president’s signature overrides the biological opinions that protect Delta fish or, by extension, the Endangered Species Act itself. Depending on which senator was doing the talking, it definitely does or it definitely [...]

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Same data, different headlines

I spotted these seemingly conflicting headlines on DWR’s water news roundup yesterday. What gives? Who’s right? Confusing as it may seem, both stories are correct. The journalists are looking at the same numbers but are comparing them in different ways. The L.A. Times story (on the left) focuses on the fact that following a somewhat [...]

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‘It’s truly an amazing thing’

For those who have never had the chance to paddle down a salmon-bearing stream. Great stuff (well — except for that rope swing business. What were you thinking, dude?).

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About that 40 percent number

It seems simple enough: The State Water Resources Control Board, arbiter of equitable water use in California, wants to leave 40 percent of the water in three streams feeding the San Joaquin River south of Stockton. To the surprise of no one who follows this stuff, it’s more complicated than it sounds. Let’s ignore, for [...]

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For Stockton, tunnels about quality AND quantity

One detail was omitted from last week’s write-up on the city of Stockton’s concerns about how the Delta tunnels might impact the city’s new water treatment plant. This is a bit wonky. Stick with me. The story is all about the city’s fear that water quality will deteriorate at the intake for its $220 million [...]

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    Alex Breitler

    A native of Benicia, he lives in Stockton with his wife, Ann, who forces him to go backpacking in the Sierra Nevada or Trinity Alps at every opportunity. He has been writing mostly about natural resources since 2003, first in Redding and now in ... Read Full
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