Court: California can regulate Russian River farms

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Updated: 6/18 2:12 pm

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An appellate court says the state can limit how much water hundreds of farmers pump from a Northern California river to protect their vineyards from frost.

The state's Water Resources Control Board set the rules after 25,000 young salmon died on the banks of the Russian River and its tributaries in 2008. The state says farmers in Mendocino and Sonoma counties sprayed so much water onto their vineyards and other crops during cold snaps that river levels dropped, killing fish.

A Mendocino County judge had blocked the state's regulation, saying farmers had long-standing river rights, but the First District Court of Appeal finds the water board has authority to implement its plans.

Mendocino County Farm Bureau's Devon Jones told the Press Democrat that farmers are considering whether to appeal.

©2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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