Tag Archives: drought

Continuing Drought in Siouxland Creates Wetless Wetlands, Wilson Island State Recreation Area, Missouri Valley

19 Nov

A Lesser Yellowlegs snatched a meal in a pond at Wilson Island State Recreation area near DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The last couple of years or so, the Siouxland region like other places in and around the midwest and other states has been dealing with drought conditions. Little rainfall during that normal season or snowfall during the winter months. Areas that should have water now does not, and slowly the lack of water will affect all, humans and animals in nature.

I have driven past a sign on a local interstate highway for years, one for Wilson Island State Recreational Area. I understand from some friends that it used to be a wonderful place to camp and spend time. A major flood in 2011 inundated the recreation area and killed many of the trees and irreparably damaged the site, as the flood did to other areas in the region as well.

Just a few lily pads remain in a dry pond at the Wilson Island State Creation area near DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Barren trees seen at the Wilson Island State Recreation area near DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

For the longest time the park was closed. For years it seemed as clean up work apparently was slow going with the removal of dead trees and restoring of camping areas after the flood water eventually receded. I visited the park while in the vicinity of DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge. With the current drought conditions, shore birds and other life in nature is struggling to find needed food sources that have since dried up or changed from previous years. And some signs seen in the park appear absurd considering the current conditions.

Apparently a Lesser Yellowlegs looking for bugs in a pond didn’t read the sign at Wilson Island State Recreation area near DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Lesser Yellowlegs looks for a meal in a pond at Wilson Island State Recreation area near DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A dry pond bed is all that is left at the Wilson Island State Recreation Area near DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With winter seemingly coming earlier this year by indications of recent temperature changes and snow and rain storms passing across the U.S. maybe the drought conditions will be dented. But the Siouxland region is almost 14 inches below normal for annual rainfall. And so moisture is needed to replace what is disappearing and which will eventually affect controlled plant farming as water is needed for growing corn and soybeans and other agriculture crops.

I do hope it snows this winter, and also hope the frigid temperatures below freezing and those well below zero with wind chill take a year off. Snowshoeing and being outdoors in the winter time is not so bad. But feeling 20-30 mile an hour wind on your face with temperatures reaching -20 and -30 degrees is not so much fun.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A small a pond of water is all that is seen at Wilson Island State Recreation area near DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Barely a trickle of water seen in a pond at Wilson Island State Recreation area near DeSoto National WIldlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Siouxland “Winterless” Wonderland, Sioux County

5 Feb

The snowfall this year in the Siouxland area has been drastically less than previous years. Local weather prognosticators have indicated it could be a “dry” spring, which is not good for farmers. Yet, by winter standards, it is still early in the season. Driving through Sioux County in the northern end of Siouxland this past week there is little snowfall covering the now harvested fields. Snow helps replenish the moisture in the fields so when spring planting time comes, there is no worry that the plants will not germinate and grow.  A look at a recently released drought monitor map by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture shows that most of Iowa is in an abnormal drought pattern, and that some areas east of Siouxland it borders are actual drought conditions. It is still early in the winter season, and last spring inches of snow fell over the area, while grumbling residents scooped more of it late into the season hoping for an end to the snow. Everyone was keen on the temperature being warm enough so there could be 2-3 inches of rain, rather than 20-30 inches of snow to remove.

While driving along a main road in Sioux County, I also came across an abandoned farm house. The decline of the family farm that sustained so many families while producing food for this country has been immense. Like in other businesses, it was deemed that bigger is better and small family farms could not compete with larger, oft times corporate farms with thousands of acres of farmland to plant and harvest. As technology continues to move forward and more businesses become automated thought occurs as to what jobs will the human race perform to actually make enough to raise a family and feed themselves. Politicians and educators as well as business leaders say people just need to retrain and move forward with technology. But no one seems to no what that technology is and what jobs these people should learn to succeed. At times it appears there will only be service industry work including restaurants and hotels to cater to those who have more wealth, thus continuing what seems to be an ever increasing cycle of haves, and haves not so much. With the latter group of people falling further behind as time moves forward.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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