A winter storm is dumping feet of snow in the Sierra after a very dry February. An 80-million-year-old plant fossil discovered in Placer County has helped fill a significant gap in the fossil record. A conversation with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento about homeownership for lower-income households.
Cold winter storms in the Sierra
California’s snowpack was off to an impressive start this winter after a series of storms pummeled the state. And after several dry weeks, a round of unusually cold storms has dumped even more snow. Yosemite National Park is currently closed after park officials say the snow was up to 15 feet deep in some areas. The Sierra has also experienced blizzard conditions prompting the temporary closure of several Tahoe ski resorts as well as creating dangerous driving conditions. Although much of Northern California is getting a break today/temperatures remain pretty chilly and even more snow is forecasted in the Sierra this weekend. On Friday, we’ll get an update on the state’s snowpack from state water managers at the Department of Water Resources. But in the meantime, we’re going to head up to Donner Summit to check in with Andrew Schwartz, Lead Scientist at the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab which has been recording some impressive snow totals this winter.
More than three decades ago, construction workers unearthed something unusual while building new homes in Granite Bay. They discovered a fossilized plant buried for eons. The ancient plant was collected by researchers at Sierra College and preserved in its Natural History Museum in Rocklin. There it sat for decades, and only recently has its scientific significance been realized. A curious professor from the University of Kansas took a closer look at the fossil, and after careful examination, released a study suggesting this discovery has helped close a critical gap in the fossil record. It reveals the ancestors of an incredibly diverse family of flowering plants that we enjoy today, including close relatives of coffee and potatoes which evolved during the last days of the dinosaurs. Insight sat down with Richard Hilton, professor of earth sciences at Sierra College, and Brian Atkinson, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Kansas, who shared the fascinating story of this fossil tens of millions of years in the making.
Homeownership for lower-income households
Real estate prices may be dropping in Sacramento but being able to afford a home is still out of reach for many households. According to Redfin, home prices in the Sacramento area have dropped slightly to a median price just shy of $450,000. But according to the latest Census, the average household income in the county is roughly $75,000 a year which for many is less than what is needed for both a home and financial stability. Habitat for Humanity has long helped bridge that costly gap, helping lower-income households get into ownership. The non-profit’s Greater Sacramento chapter has opened applications for its latest round of homeownership opportunities for those looking to live in Sacramento and Yolo counties. Shannin Stein, Chief Operating Officer for Habitat for Humanity Greater Sacramento, joined Insight to help walk through the process and how to apply.