We have all read about the negative effects of the drought on businesses and citizens. Farmers left an estimated 400,000 to 800,000 acres of land fallow during the year, causing approximately $1.7 billion in economic damages. Despite all of the damages, I did find one industry that is actually relishing in the drought: For all you California and Oregon wine lovers, you might want to stock up on the 2014 vintage. The Wall Street Journal reports that growers in California and Oregon believe that the 2014 vintage may be some of the best wines in the last few years. Unlike some other important crops in California, grape vines are in general very drought tolerant. In some areas, grape vines receive little to no irrigation. Also, the hot, dry weather naturally reduced grape yields. The grapes that did grow have much more concentrated sugars, leading to bolder flavors and better tasting wines.
While wine lovers may be rejoicing at the drought, Mother Nature has been much crueler to the wildlife that call the Western United States home. The drought has caused stress on wildlife populations ranging from ducks to salmon. The effects of the drought on wildlife have also brought on some contentious debate over the best and highest use of limited water resources. In this piece, I will look at some of the issues facing salmon populations in California that are feeling the effects of the drought. Next week, I will look at issues surrounding the protection of the Delta Smelt and will explore whether there is a happy medium between our water consumption and wildlife protection. Continue reading