In 2010 I attended a family reunion in Northern California. Because my military family was stationed near San Deigo, we made the drive up the Five. One of the things we saw was the impact of the Congress-imposed drought on the Central Valley, formerly the breadbasket of America. The story hasn’t gone away. The picture below of the Central Valley was taken during that drive.
Today National Review Online posted an update of the story.
The story at National Review Online describes the Central Valley:
The soil being uncharacteristically fertile and the summers being long and dry, growers are afforded that most valuable of things: control. Emancipated from Gaia’s caprice, farmers here can determine precisely not only how much water they wish to provide to their crops but when to add it, too. Which is to say that, in the Central Valley, irrigation is achieved not by the whimsy of the sky but by deliberately placed pipes, pumps, and microprocessors. It is here that the ancient earth meets the best of technology; where Silicon Valley meshes with the baser elements and, together, they yield life. “If the Pilgrims had landed in California,” Ronald Reagan liked to joke, “the East Coast would still be a wilderness.” Undoubtedly. I suspect fewer Pilgrims would have died, too. Make no mistake: This place is a miracle — a vast greenhouse in which, unmolested by the elements and provided with incomparably fecund terrain, farmers can do their thing as never before.
But the miracle has a problem. On the Harris Ranch in the Central Valley, 9,000 of the 15,000 acres are fallow because of lack of water.
The article explains:
The Central Valley’s woes began in earnest in 2007, when the hardline Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) won a lawsuit against California’s intricate water-delivery system, sending farmers like John Harris into a tailspin. In court, the NRDC’s lawyers contended that the vast pumps that help to funnel water from the reservoirs up in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta down to the Central Valley, to Southern California, and to the Bay Area were sucking in and shredding an unacceptable number of smelt — and, the smelt being protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) since 1994, that this was illegal.
And much of the breadbasket became a dustbowl.
Please follow the link above to read the entire article. It is a study in governmental destruction of a natural resource–America’s breadbasket.
The article concludes:
And so nothing happens. Each year, farmers sit and wait — praying for rain, and hoping that the federal government will send them a few drops of water so that they do not have to leave perfectly good land fallow and tell their employees that this month there will be no work. Of all our present troubles, California’s farming woes are perhaps the most inexplicably sourced and the most easily fixed. Complacently convinced of their infallibility, legislators in the nation’s richest state have prostrated themselves at the feet of many silly ideas in recent years. But for authorities to have put the livelihood of millions of citizens at the mercy of a tiny little fish is almost too much to bear.
We need a little common sense with our environmentalism.