Increasingly, Valley urban areas face severe air quality issues with serious health consequences, such as higher incidences of asthma. “Urban heat islands” created by extensive pavement and other impermeable surfaces cause air temperatures to rise. People then consume more energy with air conditioning, and ozone and air pollution levels also rise. Vegetation helps reduce the impacts of heat islands through shading and evapotranspiration, the process by which water stored in the leaves of plants evaporates and drops the temperature of the surrounding air. With its canopy of trees and other plants, the San Joaquin River Blueway will help improve our air quality and help our region adapt to a warming climate.
My grandfather came out here in his late teens after the Civil War ... My grandparents had sheep and cattle and they did some dry farming ... My father came back after the First World War and took over the management of the ranch ... once they built the [Friant] Dam and got irrigation into this valley, he switched totally from dry farming to alfalfa and robust cotton. I’d ride my horse across the land between here and the river, just green open land all the way from here to there, and then I’d ride down into the river. There was a lot of water and wonderful vegetation along the banks. The sycamore trees..oh, they were beautiful!