Weekly Drought Map

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The Dry Garden: Watering native plants in summer, or not

WHILE most Southern Californian gardens require more water in summer, native gardens need less. In fact, they take so much less that if you haven’t watered a native plant to death, then you probably haven’t tried native gardening. It’s a rite of passage, closely followed by the second rite of withholding all summer water — and killing the plant that way.

This is not to suggest that native plants are hard to grow. They’re just easy to kill. The key to reaping their beauty and benefits without watering them to death is understanding summer dormancy.

For the rest of the story in this week’s Los Angeles Times column The Dry Garden, click here.

Mixed message to mining: Clean up, says Obama Cabinet. Mess up, says Bush-era Supreme Court

IT’S AS SCREWY as it sounds.

On Monday, in a 6-3 vote, the US Supreme Court upheld the legality of dumping gold mine waste into Lower Slate Lake in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest instead of disposing of it in a special tailings pond. The next day, the Agriculture Secretary announced nearly $20m dollars of federal stimulus funds to be spent on mine waste clean-ups, including $2.8m to Alaska. Meanwhile, the Clean Water Act in any of its various guises does not apply to the Alaskan lake about to receive 4.5 million tons of highly contaminated mine tailings.

First to the Supreme Court decision:

 “The ruling clears the way for as much as 4.5 million tons of mine tailings — waste left after metals are extracted from the ore — to be dumped into the lake,” reported the  Associated Press.

Not all of the justices were behind it. AP reported

Tahoe revealed

A submerged tree seen from the submersible in the depths of Fallen Leaf Lake is possible evidence of ancient drought that lowered the lake level for centuries. Photo: Reno Gazette-Journal

“RICHARD Schweickert slipped into a world of brilliant blue,” begins a fascinating story in today’s Reno Gazette-Journal recounting a trip by a miniature submarine through the depths of Lake Tahoe.

From the story:

“It reminds me of a helicopter under water,” Schweickert said of the vehicle that offered him a fish-eye view of a major earthquake fault off Tahoe’s north shore.

The two-person submersible, captained by Scott Cassell of the nonprofit Undersea Voyager Project, made more than 40 dives in Tahoe and nearby Fallen Leaf Lake in May. Crews examined earthquake faults, ancient submerged trees and invading species …

For the whole text, click here.

Fresno city ranked sustainability leader as county seeks disaster status

AS California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer joined Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in calling on the Obama administration to issue a federal disaster declaration for Fresno County today, AP / SF Chronicle, the City of Fresno received top ranking in the “sustainability index” of an UC Davis report “Achieving Sustainability in California’s Central Valley.”

From the UC Davis press release: The population of California’s Central Valley is expected to balloon from 7 million to 12 million people in the next 30 years, making it the fastest growing region anywhere in the U.S. or Mexico. Can the valley’s communities be that big and green as well? 

“I am actually pretty pessimistic about the possibility,” said associate professor Mark Lubell, the lead author of a new UC Davis review of 100 Central Valley cities’ growth policies.

This post has been updated.

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