Tule Story

Researchers examine tule reeds and rice fields in the Delta

On Twitchell Island, near the Delta town of Isleton, tules covering 15 acres grow twice as tall as the average man. A gravel road separates the wetlands from a cornfield, sunken 25 feet at its lowest point. Every year, the wetlands’ soil rises a few inches, while the cornfield sinks. The discovery that tules increase land elevation in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is fueling a joint experiment conducted by the state Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Geological Survey, along with UC Davis researchers, other universities and private consultants.

Dec 1, 2009 Joanna Corman
James Herwatt, CEO of Cork Supply USA, which typically sips about 15 million corks a month

Chain Reaction

Auxillary industries weather the wine storm

Northern California manufacturers and distributors of everything from barrels to bottles to pesticides for the region’s wine industry are using the same juxtaposition to sum up the wine market: “up and down.”

Dec 1, 2009 Christine Calvin
Tim Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, says that desalination should be part of the state's water solution, however, "You don't solve the problem by shifting it from one ecosystem to another."

(Photo: Jill Wagner)

Salt of the Dearth

The role of desalination in California's water crisis

If Sir Isaac Newton were around today to assess California’s interest in seawater desalination, he would likely reference his own third law of motion, which in simple terms states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In short, as our water supply dwindles, the desire to glean freshwater from salty oceans and brackish groundwater is growing.

Nov 1, 2009 Rich Ehisen
The El Dorado Hills Town Center mostly houses small independent merchants and a handful of national chains.

Plea Market

Retail along Highway 50 looks to fill some gaps

No part of the region has been immune to the retail woes that come with a lagging economy, but the Highway 50 corridor — Rancho Cordova, Folsom and El Dorado Hills — entered the slowdown crippled by its own geography.

Nov 1, 2009 Bill Romanelli

Education Reform

Race to the Top...or Not

The Obama administration and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are dangling a huge carrot in front of California: a share of a $4.3 billion fund to reform K-12 education. This so-called Race to the Top initiative is the single largest pot of discretionary dollars ever offered to states for such reforms.

Nov 1, 2009 Winnie Comstock-Carlson

From Gritty to Groovy

Planners and developers plow ahead on K street

City planners and private developers in Sacramento envision a downtown shopping and entertainment hub pulsing with revenue and pedestrians. The mind’s eye replaces vagrants with decorative park benches and rundown storefronts with shiny new facades. And rather than dispersing at sundown, restaurant patrons and theatergoers would linger into the wee hours.

Nov 1, 2009 Christine Calvin

Delta Vision

Phil Isenberg on the state's water policy

Phil Isenberg, a longtime environmental advocate and former Sacramento mayor and state assemblyman, will lead the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force. We sat down with him recently to talk about the state’s efforts to bring its water system into the 21st century.

Nov 1, 2009 Rich Ehisen
Elk Slough, near the Delta town of Clarksburg

Peripheral Vision

Can state and federal officials agree on comprehensive reform before it's too late?

For centuries, the biggest environmental concern for most California water users was how to squeeze every last drop from nature. While a wet year might shift concerns to flood control, grab-as-grab-can gusto came back almost as soon as the waters receded. But that was then. Today, environmental concerns are center stage in the state’s ongoing effort to reform its water system.

Nov 1, 2009 Rich Ehisen
Work continues on the four-phase, $400 million project that will fix 29 miles, or 90 percent, of Yuba County's levees.

Ring of Mire

Yuba doesn't wait for the feds to tackle flood protection

Yuba County officials knew they couldn’t rely on federal money to improve their levees. Historically, the federal government has provided the bulk of money for flood protection, but it can take 10 to 20 years to receive it. So Yuba County, a mostly agricultural county of nearly 73,000 people 30 miles north of Sacramento, developed a plan to fund levee improvements itself.

Nov 1, 2009 Joanna Corman

Litigation Litany

When employers and workers can't get along in today's economy

Even in the best economy, employers fight a financial tug of war with the people who work for them. One side wants more pay and benefits while the other side wants to trim costs. When the economy takes a nose dive, though, the tug of war can get a lot rougher. State and local government jobs are getting much of the attention in Sacramento this year as furloughs and layoffs have increased tension with workers. But Sacramento’s private sector has seen temperatures rise, too.

Oct 1, 2009 Robert Celaschi
Manufacturer Siemens Transportation Systems Inc. recently completed a major expansion in an enterprise zone and added jobs.

Baiting Clean Tech

How local economic developers are getting creative

On paper it looks like the Capital Region has the makings of a world-class clean-tech hub: access to policy makers at the Capitol, access to innovative research churning out of UC Davis, and housing that’s affordable for green-collar workers. What this equation doesn’t account for, however, is how fast California is losing its competitive edge to other states and the global economy.

Oct 1, 2009 Ken James
Kaiser Permanente's Dr. Walter Kinney has been at the forefront of cervical cancer research and development.

Early Times

Can the medical community eradicate cervical cancer in your lifetime?

Cervical cancer in the U.S. has been declining for the past 50 years, and with recent advancements in prevention and screening, doctors imagine the cancer could be eradicated from America’s population within your lifetime. It’s a lofty ambition with a major caveat: It is almost entirely dependent upon the participation of the nation’s underserved women.

Oct 1, 2009 Christine Calvin
This UC Davis employee rides her bike on County Road 102 nearly every morning from her home in Woodland.

Safety Path

Woodland and Davis look to protect commuter cyclists

In October 2007, 60-year-old Francisco “Willie” Lopez was doing what he had done almost every morning for 30 years. He pedaled along County Road 99 from Woodland to his job in the finance department at UC Davis. A car hit and killed him on that country road before he made it to his desk.

Oct 1, 2009 Ken James