SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The Sacramento Municipal Utility District is making sure that restaurants take the simple but critical steps towards building an eco-friendly business.
In their first-ever Green Restaurant Symposium, SMUD officials made sure to cover topics such as recycling, composting, safe disposal of oils within a restaurant, as well as going over energy solutions.
One of the things that SMUD provides is assistance with energy efficient lighting – mainly, LED lighting.
With California's agricultural heartland entrenched in drought, restaurants are just one pieces to the state's growing conservation issues. Almond farmers are letting orchards dry up and in some cases making the tough call to have their trees torn out of the ground, leaving behind empty fields.
In California's Central Valley, Barry Baker is one of many who hired a crew that brought in large rumbling equipment to perform the grim task in a cloud of dust.
A tractor operator drove heavy steel shanks into the ground to loosen the roots and knock the trees over. Another operator, driving a brush loader equipped with a fork-like implement on the front, scooped up the trees and root balls and pushed them into a pile, where an excavator driver grabbed them up in clusters with a clawing grapple. The trees were fed into a grinder that spit wood chips into piles to be hauled away by the truckload and burned as fuel in a power plant.
Baker, 54, of Baker Farming Company, has decided to remove 20 percent of his trees before they have passed their prime. There's simply not enough water to satisfy all 5,000 acres of almonds, he said.
"Hopefully, I don't have to pull out another 20 percent," Baker said, adding that sooner or later neighboring farmers will come to the same conclusion. "They're hoping for the best. I don't think it's going to come."
There are no figures yet available to show an exact number of orchards being removed, but the economic stakes and risks facing growers are clear. Almonds and other nuts are among the most high-value crops in the Central Valley — the biggest producer of such crops in the country. In 2012, California's almond crop had an annual value of $5 billion. This year farmers say the dry conditions are forcing them to make difficult decisions.
Gov. Jerry Brown last month declared a drought emergency after the state's driest year in recorded history.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press. Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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