How has the drought across the district affected your operations and/or your community?

District Voices

Published September 1, 2006  | September 2006 issue

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The ground is drier; traditional wet spots are dried out. But I guess, for us, it's been a lot of nice, sunny summer weather, and actually in the recreation business, that's usually considered a plus. I think the downside of it would be that river levels are low and that therefore waterfalls and things like that aren't quite as dramatic as they are when the water levels are higher. I noticed the warm weather has slowed fishing too. ... Because it's drier, there's less habitat for mosquitoes to lay their eggs and reproduce young. The mosquito numbers, just by my own observation, are pretty good.
Robert Sprague, Park Manager
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park—Ontonagon, Mich.

Right now the log supply is great and plenty. ... With the drought it's easier to log, without a doubt, and you can get more spots than you could before. But I also think the demand for logs has decreased dramatically. I think [decreased construction is] working its way down the line. It's a double whammy. The other problem you have is you're going to have to worry about the logs spoiling because it's been so warm. Right now we're watering the logs so they don't spoil. If it's cooler and wetter, you don't have to do that. But right now there's so many that you can't cut them as fast as they're coming in.
Guy Van Epern, Plant Manager
Snowbelt Hardwoods—Hurley, Wis.

It hasn't affected me just too much here yet. But I have neighbors not far from me that it has. Soil conditions change a lot around this area. Some guys have already lost their crops. They're still looking for another week for rain; in another week it's going to affect a lot more. It's going to be a bigger area. ... In certain areas, those not under irrigation have lost some of their crop, a lot of their corn crop. The yield potential is gone from a lot of it. And it's just the heat and everything is putting a lot of stress on people.
Ron Kuechle, President
Stearns County Farm Bureau—Watkins, Minn.

The result is that access has become problematic in some parts of the reservoirs. There are several Indian tribes with municipal water intakes that have had problems getting drinking water and water for fire protection. There have been some issues with, as the water has declined in the spring, an impact on the forage fish, which are important to the sport fishery in those states where tourism is a multi-million-dollar business. Also, because we're reducing our releases from the reservoirs to conserve water, we're producing about 40 percent less hydropower than we normally do. ... [C]entral South Dakota is in extreme drought right now. They're having a terrible time. So there's been almost no runoff into the big reservoir in South Dakota.
Paul Johnston, Chief of Public Affairs,
North Western Division (Spokesman)
Army Corps of Engineers—Omaha, Neb.

The drought finally did get here, but it came late. So the winter wheat beat a lot of the effects of the drought. As a result, the crop in the Golden Triangle was average to slightly above average. The spring wheat crop in eastern Montana and in the Golden Triangle will probably be slightly below average to average, because of the drought. The heat finally did hit us, and it hit the spring crop right at flowering time, so as a result it didn't fill as well as it should have.
Darren Arganbright, Wheat Producer,
Vice President, Montana Grain Growers' Association—Carver, Mont.

It's brought the lake down a little bit, but there's still considerable flooding in Devil's Lake; it's still 25, 26 feet higher than it was when the flooding began. ... [H]owever, there are people in the basin that are still in need of precipitation—farmers, or people in the ag business. So it's kind of a double-edged sword within the area. You want to see the farmers do well and get their water. But you also don't want to have a big rain storm that would affect the levels of Devil's Lake as well. So it's a tough situation.
Tim Larson, Devil's Lake Basin Engineer
North Dakota State Water Commission—Bismarck, N.D.