As I heard it, current firefighting efforts in California run into shortages of equipment (including air tankers for spreading retardant) and manpower. To fully utilize the existing fleet of helicopters, they are flying dangerous night missions. Firefighters from Australia arrived to help about a week ago. There is an annual exchange of firefighters between California and Australia, due to mutually exclusive fire seasons. CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) inmate crews, about 2000 strong, are at work creating containment lines. If I remember correctly, about 2000 additional ones can be mobilized soon. The military is assisting with firefighting efforts, too, although I am not clear in which capacity. But there are just too many fires to fight them all effectively.
It is still early in the fire season, but already more area has been burned, and more structures have been destroyed, than in all of last year's fires. Today was the first day that San Jose, which is hundreds of miles away from the nearest large wild fire, experienced noticeably smokey air.
If I am informed correctly, the first-come-first-served system of establishing riparian water rights that gave rise to today's senior water rights existed all across the western Unites States. Somewhere I heard or read that even Texas has more water regulations in place now than California, after legal reforms there within the past decade or so.
For those who can spare the time to read it, here is a fascinating report on California's biggest farmer, interwoven with side notes on how he secures water for his farming operations:
A Kingdom from Dust
January 31, 2018
Like the wheat barons of the 1870s who lived on San Francisco’s Nob Hill, Resnick isn’t of this place. He’s never driven a tractor or opened an irrigation valve. He’s never put a dusty boot on the neck of a shovel and dug down into the soil. He wouldn’t know one of his Valencia orange groves from one of his Washington navel orange groves. The land to him isn’t real. It’s an economy of scale on a scale no one’s ever tried here. He grew up in New Jersey, where his father ran a bar. He came to California in the 1950s to remake himself.
At age 81, he’s gotten so big, he doesn’t know how big. Last time he checked, he told me he owned 180,000 acres of California. That’s 281 square miles. He is irrigating 121,000 of those acres.