This past winter Mother Nature was very good to us. Lots of slow soaking rains that replenished our “perched aquifer” along with winter weather - cold weather that we haven’t enjoyed for years and even snow. My fireplace consumed three cords of wood! It was so nice that many nights I woke up at 2 a.m. still sitting there. . . .
Snowfall on Selah.
Photograph taken by J. David.
It was a good winter in many ways, especially since we had the driest, hottest summer of the past 60 years. Most of our springs quit flowing, our creeks dried up as well as most stock tanks. We came within days of having to buy water. . . . Now with that wonderful winter behind us, we’re back to normal. . . . But what is normal?
It’s been three years since this scene greeted you as you came into the ranch. This water is collected from many hillsides and seeps for four miles before coming together near here. Photograph taken by J. David.
Just a quarter mile upstream, near the Historical Marker. It’s the same creek as in the previous picture. Photograph taken by J. David.
This tributary is on higher ground. It brings runoff from an entirely different canyon which our neighbor at Walnut Springs provides. It’s been rather dependable in the past. Photograph taken by J. David.
This was the first concrete dam we built, about 1972. The water is eight foot deep. It stopped running for the first time last year, but still had stock water behind the dam. This location, years ago, was named Jacob’s Ladder . . . but that’s another story. Photograph taken by J. David.
Ah, yes ~ Madrone Lake, the Jewel of Selah! Full and going through a draw down tube. The lake is surrounded by the Natural Arboretum and Nature Trail. It will be good swimming for the kids with clear, cool water all summer. Photograph taken by J. David.
So Why Is This Posting’s Title About Drought?
There are still people that do not believe that global warming and climate change are for real. I am not one of them. These last five years I have witnessed the loss of 2,000+ trees from extreme heat and lack of rain. I’m watching certain plants expand their range, Sotol and Twisted Leaf Yucca. Even now, today May 19, after receiving three inches of rain my testimony is that we’re entering a drought!!! It’s beautiful here, wildflowers aplenty, new growth on the trees, birds, butterflies and bees seem happy enough, but, while the rangeland is green, on close examination it’s not all grass and what grass we have is not full and tall. Weeds/forbs fill in the spaces left bare from last year’s heat and lack of rain. Grass that has been stressed is slow to recover. While we’re looking good out the picture window, there are ominous signs out there. . . . First, we have been experiencing temperatures in the low nineties every day this month. We’re still having “March winds,” regularly. Ninety degree temperatures are expected in July and August – not in April and May. The high temperature and wind dry out surface moisture and this is bad for grass.
Our aquifer is full – all eleven springs are producing and as my pictures illustrate – we’re looking good, but summer isn’t here yet. Let’s not forget the fear we had these last few years. Everyone, please stay focused on conservation. It’s a good habit to develop.
There are so many, many good causes that need financial help. Preserving the earth itself is important. So, if you would like to help us with a donation, we are a 501(c)(3) private operating foundation and gifts are deductible to the extent of the law. You can send your contributions to: Bamberger Ranch Preserve, 2341 Blue Ridge Drive, Johnson City, TX 78636.