We are just dirt without H20

So where does that leave crucial efforts to maintain habitat not only for wildlife, but for the protected wild horses inhabiting the HMA and private cattle ranchers utilizing the ground for grazing? Quite pointedly, it leaves us all in a crisis and quandary of where will we turn to next in solutions for water.

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by Kim Zierlein | 03.03.2022

Water.

 

One simple word can change the world. It has changed the world and will continue to change the world. Water is essential. Not just a soft need or want even though it can be perceived as that depending on your use of it at the time. Water is essential to existence. It is why we exist and thrive on Earth. I pick up my Duck’s Unlimited stainless steel water carafe that I carry to work, unscrew the top, and take a drink.

 

Yep.

Essential.

 

Water is molecularly tied to our very existence. Every cell in our body needs hydration to function and maintain physical integrity. Dehydration can lead to headaches, physical and mental shutdown, weakness, and slow responses. In the most drastic cases of water deprivation, lack of water means death.

 

So why is water such a volatile topic for the McCullough Peaks Herd Management Area in 2022? Why are there advocacy groups, private ranchers, and BLM officials in a time of crisis desperately working together during this prolonged drought in northwestern Wyoming? The answer is simple. We need water. Livestock needs water. The habitat, wild horses, and wildlife need water.

 

Cody BLM Field office personnel have started a working group initiative to problem-solve and brainstorm solutions for the water shortage in the over 120,000 acres that are in their care 20 miles east of Cody, WY.

 

January 4, 2022, led the group on a field tour of critical reservoirs that need rehabilitation and work to capture the little moisture that the peaks receive in a year. Wyoming is the fifth driest state in the union and it is only getting worse based on climate change and shifting winter precipitation patterns. The average elevation is 6,700 feet, classifying us as a high plain’s dessert. It is the only place I have ever lived that you can be on the sagebrush step among antelope, rattlesnakes, and cactus in the morning and by nightfall, you can be in the high alpine with the timberwolves, rock pools, and snow.

 

Having the Continental Divide splitting the state makes us a source and epicenter for water runoff for both the west and the east. It also can be unforgiving in times of drought. Coming off the heels of the 2001 longest-running drought for this state on record at 435 weeks, we are sadly heading into what is predicted to be far worse in 2021 and 2022. The Associated Press covered statistics that concluded in 2020 Wyoming experienced its fifth driest year and 16th warmest summer since 1985 in 2020. That being said we are increasingly seeing consecutive years of water shortages and heat becomes a problem for our state.

 

So where does that leave crucial efforts to maintain habitat not only for wildlife, but for the protected wild horses inhabiting the HMA and private cattle ranchers utilizing the ground for grazing? Quite pointedly, it leaves us all in a crisis and quandary of where will we turn to next in solutions for water.

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2020-2021 Wyoming Drought Map courtesy of Weather.gov.

References


Better Health. Article: Water – A vital nutrient. 9-11-2021. Website: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/water-a-vital-nutrient

 

Water Resources Data System & State Climate Office. Article: Wyoming Drought. Updated 2021. Website: http://www.wrds.uwyo.edu/drought/drought.html

 

Stambaugh, Debbi. 01.2022. In person interview. “The Peaks, The Mustangs, The State.”

 

Associated Press. Drought Expected to Persist Throughout Wyoming. July 23, 2021. Website: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/wyoming/articles/2021-07-23/drought-expected-to-persist-spread-throughout-wyoming

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