The drought and heat wave have caused some amazing things to be happening around Wyoming. For example:
• Up near Buffalo, Jim Hicks reports: “We had one hell of a fire near us. Started about four miles away and ran to the north and east behind a 40 to 50 mile per hour wind with temperatures near 100.
“It burned 30,000 acres, took out a lot of fences, burned a few small buildings on one ranch house, barns and corrals.
“I know most of those people in that area. Some now have no forage for their cattle and no place to go with them. I`m helping haul cattle. Really feel sorry for some of these people. They either have to sell or truck them many miles to find grass and hay prices are high. Looking at $200 a ton hay now.”
Pretty sober message.
• A similar report came from former gubernatorial candidate Ray Hunkins about his Thunderhead ranch west of Wheatland.
“Just got back from a survey of our ranch. We are surrounded on three sides by this monster fire. Praying the wind stays out of the south.
“It is the driest I have seen it in the 33 years I have owned the ranch,” he says. “In 44 years of living in southeast Wyoming, never seen it this dry. It`s the driest in my 73 years in the West.”
“The creeks and springs are drying up. There is no grass and lots of dead and drought- stressed timber. We are all waiting for a spark to set this whole mountain range - from Cheyenne to Casper - ablaze. There have already been two project fires, one just north of us and another west of Glenrock that is burning as I write this. There will be more to come. Our son works for the U.S. Forest Service (Black Hills National Forrest) in the summer on their fire crew. He has been sent to the High Park fire west of Fort Collins.
“The cattle trucks are streaming out of eastern Wyoming filled with cattle. Thank goodness the prices have held pretty good but the extreme drought has disrupted a lot of operations.
“Had an old Indian firefighter friend of mine tell me that it is going to start raining in this country on July 9. Bring on that hope and change!”
• Here in Lander for the first time in history, all fireworks were banned over July 4.
Lander is famous as looking and sounding like the nighttime bombing of Baghdad on the 4th. While many other cities and towns have banished fireworks over the years, Lander leaders encouraged them. Some neighborhoods saw people spending $5,000 to $10,000 for their own shows. Not this year.
• Randy Wagner says, “it is dry as dust in Cheyenne” and “we are choking on the smoke from those Colorado fires.”
• Rock Springs Chamber Director Dave Hanks (who lives in Farson) says: “On our side of the mountain we haven’t seen a measurable amount of rain since April. Our beloved desert is extremely dry. No new growth of grasses or sage.
“This year is starting to shape up like 1988 and the Yellowstone fires. Ranchers are already hauling water to stock ponds due to no runoff. It looks to be a good year for hay prices if you can spare the feed. With all the dead timber in the West we could be in for one hell of a fire season.”
• Also near Buffalo, retired legislator Doug Osborn says: “We live on the Middle Fork of Crazy Woman Creek. It usually floods in May or June but no flood this year. It has run fairly high and is now more back to summer normal. After the beautiful year of 2011, this feels more like the old drought days.”
• Retired Thermopolis publisher Pat Schmidt tells: “It was obvious during a recent morning that the temperature was going to hit 100 degrees. Donna and Norval Eberspacher and I decided to beat the heat by retreating to the high country.
“The temperature hit 90 degrees as we headed west up the Owl Creek valley shortly before noon, our destination the point where the east-west Owl Creek Mountains reach the north-south Absaroka Mountains. The heat didn’t start to dip until we started the final climb above the corrals around 40 miles from town.”
• Yep, folks it is dry all over and this is just the first of July. Holy smokes, what are we in for this summer?