An audit of state agency responses to two recent wildfires in Kansas showed that the state’s wildfire suppression training and mitigation programs do not sufficiently prepare the state for wildfire response, according to Kansas State Forester, Larry Biles and Fire Management Officer, Mark Neely. They spoke before the state’s legislative budget committee on Oct. 3 in Topeka. “We are encouraged to see the legislature focus on what is the state’s most rapidly growing hazards – wildfires,” said Biles. Biles and Neely provided a review of the opinion from the Kansas Forest Service and KFS Advisory Council on the Legislative Post Audit on wildfire suppression in the state.
A Big Island farmer whose fields are buried under lava says the state is still requiring him pay off a $22,000 loan on the land — even though he’s not allowed to step foot on the property.“The state of Hawaii sanctioned me to farm in lava zone 1. They knew I was in lava zone 1. They financed me," said farmer Gregg Adams, who owns Dragon Fruit Farms — about a mile beyond the checkpoint on Highway 132.“They had a vested interest in me. Now they’re saying, ‘Oh well, you still own the money.’”Despite losing everything, Adams says he’s ready to start farming some place new.However, he says a lack of help has made it all but impossible. Adams has gotten a $34,000 from FEMA to help cover the loss of his home, but has gotten nothing to help cover the loss of his farm.“May 26th is when the lava took my farm,” Adams said.“I lost my home. I lost green houses. I lost packing sheds. I lost all my equipment.”
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter said Tuesday that former Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Blake Fischer’s hunting photos “tainted” Idaho’s reputation as they drew criticism from around the world. Fischer resigned Monday at Otter’s request — three days after the Idaho Statesman first reported that several former Fish and Game commissioners disapproved of Fischer’s photos.“We’d like to get this behind us,” Otter said, “because this is not us.”Fischer emailed more than 100 friends and colleagues last month with pictures and descriptions from the hunting kills he and his wife made on a trip to Namibia. The first photo has been the focus of many — an image of Fischer smiling behind four baboons he shot, including a juvenile. He called the animals a “family of baboons” in his email.
The sharp partisanship that’s typified North Carolina’s government was buried temporarily on Monday as legislators approved spending $400 million to quickly help people and communities reeling from flooding left by Hurricane Florence and setting aside another $450 million for upcoming needs. The emergency spending plan unveiled a month after Florence slammed into the state would help farmers and fishermen who suffered economic losses, keep college students in school despite storm-related setbacks, and repair damaged school buildings.Most of the money would come from the state’s emergency reserves. The state has about $2 billion in rainy-day funds, and this year’s state budget left $560 million unspent.“There’ll be no tax increases and no interruptions or disruptions from a budgetary perspective of any of our existing important programs,” said Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Raleigh-area Republican who heads the House budget-writing committee.The Florence relief spending legislators have promised so far represents about a half of the $1.5 billion Gov. Roy Cooper’s office estimated last week will be needed over a five-year recovery.
t is the fall harvest here in this fertile stretch of oaks and hills that produces some of the country’s best wine. This season, though, workers also are plucking the sticky, fragrant flowers of a new crop. Marijuana is emerging among the vineyards, not as a rival to the valley’s grapes but as a high-value commodity that could help reinvigorate a fading agricultural tradition along the state’s Central Coast. Brushed by ocean breeze, cannabis has taken root, offering promise and prompting the age-old question of whether there can be too much of a good thing.Cannabis has been fully legal in California for less than a year, and no place is generating more interest in it than the stretch of coast from Monterey to here in Santa Barbara County, where farmers now hold more marijuana cultivation licenses than in any other county.
The lead paint industry’s efforts to avoid a cleanup bill for more than $400 million has reached the end of the road.The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to review California state court rulings finding Sherwin-Williams, Conagra and NL Industries responsible for lead paint contamination in thousands of homes built before 1951. That date is when the companies said their predecessor firms ceased actively advertising lead-based paint as a residential product. The court’s action closes a key chapter in an 18-year legal battle waged by 10 California cities and counties, including Los Angeles County and the city of San Diego. Their lawsuit, originally filed in state court in Santa Clara in 2000, asserted the residual lead in old homes was contributing to severe health problems in children exposed to the paint. "It's at the top of our list of environmental threats," Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the interim health officer and medical director for Los Angeles County, told me last year.
The Iowa Supreme Court will decide whether the ordinance used to confine a Des Moines dog for two years as a dangerous animal is unconstitutional. The court will accept briefs Tuesday in the case of Helmers v. City of Des Moines, which concerns a dog named Pinky whom the city deemed to be dangerous and impounded for two years after she injured a neighbor's cat during a fight.The city moved to have Pinky destroyed, but instead she remained confined at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, which contracts with the city, while her case worked its way through the court system. Pinky was released in April after the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled in the dog's favor by finding that the law is unconstitutionally vague.In a concurrence with the majority opinion, Appeals Court Judge Richard Doyle wrote that "the city of Des Moines has been unwavering in its mission to kill Pinky."The city appealed the decision to Iowa's high court, which will have the final say on the constitutionality of the ordinance in its current form.Lawyers for Helmers argue Pinky was improperly seized from her previous owners in violation of the city's ordinance and without notice or a declaration that she was dangerous. They say the seizure violates due process and the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 8 of the Iowa Constitution, which protect against unreasonable search and seizures.
Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris has been named as a federal judge in West Tennessee, leaving his position open in the state senate. The U.S. Senate voted Thursday evening to confirm Norris in a close vote 51-44 vote.“I recommended Senator Norris to the president, and I strongly supported Mark’s nomination,” U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said in a statement. “He is respected by his peers around the country, having been elected chairman of the Council of State Governments, and has been an advocate and a champion for federalism and for the separation of powers.”
Native American groups in North Dakota are scrambling to help members acquire new addresses, and new IDs, in the few weeks remaining before Election Day — the only way that some residents will be able to vote. This week, the Supreme Court declined to overturn North Dakota's controversial voter ID law, which requires residents to show identification with a current street address. A P.O. box does not qualify.Many Native American reservations, however, do not use physical street addresses. Native Americans are also overrepresented in the homeless population. As a result, Native residents often use P.O. boxes for their mailing addresses and may rely on tribal identification that doesn't list an address.Those IDs used to be accepted at polling places — including in this year's primary election — but will not be valid for the general election. And that decision became final less than a month before Election Day, after years of confusing court battles and alterations to the requirements.
The Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development today announced a public comment period on the state’s 2019 Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs). The public comment period begins now and ends at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, October 29, 2018. Public comment will be accepted on the following GAAMPs, which have proposed changes for 2019: Manure Management and Utilization; Care of Farm Animals; Site Selection and Odor Control for New and Expanding Livestock Facilities; and Irrigation Water Use. The GAAMPs regarding the Nutrient Utilization, Cranberry Production, Farm Markets, and Pesticide Utilization and Pest Control have no proposed changes for 2019.