AM Live Ag Report

FRESNO, Calif.

State lawmakers are considering changing an $11-billion water bond on the November ballot.

They met Tuesday to look at making revisions. They want to deflect criticism that private corporations stand to benefit.

Opponents say a provision in the bond could allow private companies to partially own, operate and profit from water projects built with public money.

The bill would ensure that bond money for dams, reservoirs and water banks only go to joint power authorities made up of public agencies.

The U.S. Supreme Court has lifted a ban on planting genetically engineered alfalfa.

A federal judge had banned the seed after claims the plants might harm the environment. The seeds are resistant to the popular weed killer roundup

The U.S. Agriculture Department must now decide whether to allow the genetically modified seeds to be planted. It says the ban on the crop will remain in place until it prepares an environmental impact statement and it officially deregulates the crop.

The U.S.D.A. had earlier approved the seeds, but courts in California and Oregon said the agency did not look hard enough at whether the seeds would eventually share their genes with other crops.

Millions of baby salmon have been released into Northern California waterways to help the struggling fish recover from population declines.

The state department of fish and game says most of the 16.5-million young salmon smolts were released last week into San Pablo Bay, between the San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Since 2007, the salmon population has dipped to levels so low that fishing has been canceled or greatly reduced. Fishermen blame the Delta's vast series of pumps which divert water to farms instead of leaving it for the fish. Others blame changing ocean conditions.

The U.S.D.A. has stopped using beetles to prevent the spread of an invasive tree that has taken over areas across the west, because a bird species makes its home in the trees.

The agency has formally ended its program of releasing saltcedar leaf beetles to eat saltcedar trees in 13 states, including Nevada, Oregon and Washington. It was discovered, "the endangered, southwestern willow flycatcher" bird, nests in the trees.

California was excluded from the beetle program because officials were worried the beetles could destroy much of the bird's nesting habitat. Now, scientists say it could be just a matter of time before the insects chew through saltcedar all the way down the Colorado River drainage in Arizona and Eastern California.

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