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By Eric Johnson
Published Jun 17, 2024

The Sacramento San Joaquin Delta, aka the California Delta, is one of the largest estuaries on the West Coast, and supplies the state with two-thirds of its water. The Sacramento San Joaquin Delta, aka the California Delta, is one of the largest estuaries on the West Coast, and supplies the state with two-thirds of its water. Image credit: Jeffrey T. Kreulen, Shutterstock

Californians Saving Trees and Water

Happy Monday, Localistas! As spring gives way to summer, and most of the state gets hotter and dryer, we bring you some water news that you might find refreshing.

Before we get to that, I want to bring you some agriculture news that you might find surprising.

Down in Santa Cruz this week, the Farm Bureau awarded its Farmer of the Year award to Janet Webb, president of Big Creek Lumber. If you’re curious as to why the head of a lumber company is receiving an honor set aside for farmers, it’s likely because of the way Big Creek has been doing business in the redwood forests north of Santa Cruz since 1946.

Big Creek Lumber pioneered sustainable tree harvesting practices from the moment the company was founded by Janet’s father, Frank “Lud” McCrary, his big brother Homer “Bud” McCrary, and their father and uncle. I got to hear that story from the McCrary brothers themselves while working on a chapter for the Journal of the Santa Cruz Historical Society titled “Redwood Logging and Conservation in the Santa Cruz Mountains—A Split History.” 

As Lud explained it to me in 2013, his family chose to log their land selectively and carefully out of enlightened self interest. They made their homes and raised their families in the mountains they worked, and understood that if they clear-cut the place—a practice that, sadly, was common throughout California at the time—they would ultimately be out of business. Beyond that, they had an intrinsic respect for the land.

Over the course of several months, I spent many enjoyable hours with Lud, touring the company’s property while he explained the logic and the mechanics of their operation. He was 85 years old at that time, driving an old pickup with a chainsaw in the truckbed in case he encountered a downed tree on the road, and he took me to see some of his favorite old redwoods—magnificent trees that his fallers had spared. Lud passed away last year at 95.

Hanging out with this old logger, and witnessing his work, reinforced an understanding that I’d developed over many years of environmental reporting, which is that human beings, in our quest to make a living and provide the resources necessary for civilization, do not need to leave devastation in our wake.

Which brings us to water. 

(And lest I forget—our book tells the truth about California that the dark-minded cynics don't want you to know: Here's how to empower yourself as a citizen AND support local journalism: Find How California Works on Amazonavailable in hardcover, softcover and digital (Kindle). )

Big Plans to Fix the Water Shortage

You are no doubt aware that California’s water shortage is creating profound problems— this has been a terrible truth, here and throughout the West, for decades. You may not know in recent years, your state government has been working on solutions. Can we develop the water resources needed to keep our economy alive without wreaking environmental havoc?

The Future of Water in California

Completed in 1967, with a storage capacity of about 2 million acre feet, the San Luis Reservoir is the fifth largest in California. Work is already underway to add an additional 130,000 acre feet of capacity.
State water planners are preparing for a hotter and drier climate in the coming years.

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Direct your browser to to catch up on the latest news in California and Placer County. Bookmark the link and visit often, there's a lot happening in your community!

Recipe of the Week

Our friends at Sacramento Digs Gardening publish a recipe from their gardens every Sunday, which we feature here so you can start your week with some yum.

See more recipes in their Taste Spring! cookbook.

A fool for Father’s Day: No-cook summer dessert easy enough for kids

This cool and pretty dessert is called a "fool" but the ease of making it is no joke.
Recipe: Fresh raspberry fool with a rosy twist

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Roger Niello CA Senate 06:
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Roger Niello CA Senate 06:
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