Rain Brings Some Relief to Dying Joshua Trees

The remains of a dead Joshua tree stand in Joshua Tree National Park. The majority of Californians believe the state is facing a serious water shortage. (David McNew / Getty Images / March 25, 2004)

The vast majority of Californians believe, unsurprisingly, that the state is in the throes of a serious water crisis. But many disagree about what can be done about it.

About 54% of Golden State voters believe farmers could cut down on their water with no real hardship by changing crops and being more efficient, according to the latest Field Poll.

Separately, two-thirds said they support voluntary water rationing, while only 27% favored mandatory cuts in water use.

Opinions also were divided when people assigned blame for the drought.

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About 37% say they believe the shortage was spurred by Californians who do not use existing water supplies wisely, and 27% point the finger at a lack of storage and supply facilities in the state. Nearly a quarter blamed both for the drought.

California suffered its driest year on record in 2013, prompting Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a drought emergency in the state.

Recent storms, which brought the Los Angeles region to about half its normal rainfall for the season, did little to alleviate drought conditions.

The state has undertaken measures to reduce the long-term effects of the shortage.

Last month, for example, state and federal officials began trucking about 30 million fish from five hatcheries in the Central Valley to rivers and streams near the Pacific Ocean, an effort intended to save the state’s fishing industry in coming years.

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