Environmental Ironies

Wetland rice in dryland California does not make sense, except with the benefits of enormous agricultural subsidies. Now, some farmers are making an environmentally good decision for environmentally bad reasons. First, they want to sell their land to contribute to suburban sprawl. They fear that an endangered species, which finds a good habitat in their rice paddies, might make it difficult to sell their land to developers.

Vellinga, Mary Lynne. 2007. “Owners Turn Off Spigot On Rice Fields Hoping To Develop In Natomas.” Sacramento Bee (14 August): p. A 1.

“Rice fields are drying up in the Natomas basin, and agricultural economics aren’t the only reason why. The shift out of rice is part of an effort by landowners north of the Sacramento city limits to avoid harboring endangered garter snakes, which spend much of their lives in water, said a half-dozen people who either own land in the basin or are familiar with the situation. Landowners who hope to one day develop don’t want to have their properties viewed as valuable wetland habitat by federal and state wildlife regulators. So they’re letting their fields sit fallow or growing crops that require little or no irrigation.”

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