Oklahoma Drought Monitor 6/14/11

Okiedawn OK Zone 7June 16, 2011

I've linked this week's Oklahoma portion of the U. S. Drought Monitor Map below.

Overall, it shows very little change, although a small percentage of the state moved into the two highest categories--Extreme Drought and Exceptional Drought.

Here is a link that might be useful: Oklahoma Drought Monitor

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

And, just for Jay, here's Kansas.

Jay, I noticed the Exceptional category continues to spread across your county and the one next door. Looks like the rest of Kansas may soon be feeling your pain.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kansas Drought Monitor 6/14/11

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 10:16AM
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Ever wonder if the dust bowl will be on its way back again? Will all the lack of rain and all of the just stupidity in removing old tree growth to build mile after mile of new additions with their dwarf and fruitless trees... I have often thought a new dust bowl might really be on the way for Oklahoma...

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 10:21AM
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I use to drive an 18 wheeler across the lower 48 and Canada. I was surprised at all the farm land being turned into housing additions. I have to wonder if we are using our land wisely, I know people have to have a place to live but a house can be built on a hillside, on a rock or in a tree. I think that some day we may wish we had done something differently.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 10:54AM
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Larry -

I feel the same way - not 100 years ago we brought this on ourselves... and now here we are less than 100 years later and no more lessons learned...

Makes me wonder about the future of our nation and our state...


    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 12:20PM
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Why people are not buying old homes? I heard that Norman has many old homes on sale but buyers are interested only in new homes and new neighborhoods...so that new land conversion for home building will be stopped. Indeed I was unaware that old home are so cheap but my realtor told me that its worth to buy new home than old one. But now I am regretting I would have bought old home in country side with large lot!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 1:35PM
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I love our home, but if/when we start shopping around for another one I am going to look a lot more closely at pre-owned homes. A five or ten-year old house really isn't that different from a new one, but the work required for landscaping and establishing trees and grass is already done for you. The work involved in establishing the landscape from a blank slate, for me at least, is not worth having a brand new house. I just wish I would have thought about that more when we were shopping around five years ago. Oh well, live and learn!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 1:49PM
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The chances of a dust bowl are much less these days simply due to glyphosate alone.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 2:27PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Is that because there's more no-till farming alone or the use of no-till farming plus use of Round-up for whatever weeds there are, or because the use of Round-up Ready crops + Round-up = less use of plow or cultivator as a weed control technique or....what?

Also, y'all, don't forget that we use a lot more conservation land management techniques now.

And if you haven't read the superb book about the Dust Bowl, "The Worst Hard Time" by Timothy Egan, you should. I re-read it every summer to remind myself how much better off we are now than they were. Also, Jay's part of Kansas/Oklahoma is mentioned in the book here and there and that always reminds me how harsh his climate is there.


Here is a link that might be useful: The Worst Hard Time

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 2:40PM
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Yeah, I think CRP has made a huge difference in addition to more of the no-till farming practices. The dust bowl was largely caused by conversion of native prairie grasslands to agriculture, not by urbanization. While there are a ton of new homes going in around cities, that urban sprawl is just not happening out on the high plains where the dust bowl was the worst. If anything, population is declining there as more people move to cities.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 2:49PM
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I think conservation and changes in farm methods coming from lesson learned in the dust bowl went a long ways towards minimizing soil loss, but the use of glyphosate instead of tilling and cultivating may be just as significant by itself in many high plains farming areas.

I don't think any period during the dust bowl was as dry in the drought areas west of us as this past winter and early spring have been.

CRP ("farm the best and leave the rest") has definitely helped.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 4:44PM
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Our local newspaper had an article this week saying that we have had the driest spring from Jan 1-June 12 since 1921 when records were first kept. Hooker has had only 1.51 in of moisture during that time period. Today it is 108 and windy. Because farming methods are so different than they were during the dust bowl days the land is not blowing. Most farmers work very hard to keep cover on the land so it does not blow. It is very difficult to keep a garden wet but I am thankful we have had not tornadoes, hail, or flooding. I feel bad for those who have lost their gardens to bad weather this spring. It is hard to see all that hard work gone in a few minutes.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 7:50PM
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While all that might be very true... I still worry what are we doing to our state? Where are the large stretches of land and trees going? The urban down town areas - even of small towns like Blanchard are more and more empty and people are moving farther and farther out in massive treeless, useless subdivisions.... Time will tell but this cannot be boding well for our future.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 9:32PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

The large stretches of land and trees are still large stretches of land and trees and grass here where I live. : )

I am not totally convinced the treeless subdivisions are a bad thing. IF people carefully plant quality plants, including trees, in their yards and use sustainable gardening and landscaping techniques, they can improve the land they live on. That is especially true if they garden for wildlife like many of us do.

I thought we had a lot of wildlife on our property when we bought it in the mid 1990s. When we built the house and moved here in 1999 we had a lot of wildlife. Now? It seems like we have 10 times as much wildlife on our land now as we had then. Partly that is because of the development of the WinStar Casino near the Red River in Thackerville which did push wildlife up the river to our area, but I think it also is because we have carefully removed invasive, non-natives and have carefully conserved native plants that provide food and shelter for the wild things, and we choose plantings that provide food and housing for the wildlife. We also go out of our way to provide water and food for the wild things during the worst of the cold weather and the worst of the hot weather.

It is all about how you do it.

I personally think it is great that people are moving 'to the country' as long as they are not trying to turn the country into another city. All the people who've moved to our part of the county since we moved here are very devoted to caring for the land and the wildlife and work hard to preserve any natural wetlands, springs, creeks, ponds, etc., plus they often dig more ponds and stock them with fish or create water gardens that become mini-ecosystems in their own right. None of that is a bad thing.

Now, if you drive through the counties north of Dallas where acres of farmland are being turned into identical subdivisions of McMansions (you know what I mean!), then yes, I think that might be a step backward. But, out here in the country where people want acreage for horses and cows, goats and pigs, etc., we love having them move out here and adopt the country lifestyle. Many of the folks we know are getting into having poultry, bees, gardens, berries, fruit trees, etc. and they want to do it right, so I think people can move to the country---even in a subdivision---and they can make it a great place to live if they do things in the most ecologically aware and sustainable method.

One thing wrong in this country for the last few decades is that everyone moved to the cities and forgot where their food came from. That's something that is changing, and for the better too. Even in cities, Urban Gardening and Community Gardening is thriving in ways not seen since the Victory Gardens of WWII. With every issue of Urban Farm magazine that I read, I see so many inventive ways people are growing their own foods and even raising livestock in very urbanized areas. I think in some ways they are reinventing cities when they do this, and they are reinventing them in a good way.

Down here in southern OK, once you get away from the highway corridors, there's wide-open spaces aplenty! Closer to central OK and OKC and Tulsa and the other large cities, I'm sure the subdivision sprawl could be disheartening but I still think it can work if the people who move there want to make the land better than it was when they moved there. Here in OK, land that isn't being "used" is being heavily invaded by and overrun by cedars, so why not clear it, build neighborhoods and have a better plant community in a few years than the cedar nation that is heavily colonizing every square foot of land it can?


    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 10:29AM
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Nice post.

You could make an arguement that the worst harm we have done is suppress the large fires that kept the cedar under control.

It is a bit sad to me that so much of the Arkansas River bottomland around Bixby is being paved over. In general, though, I don't worry about tree removal in the US after driving through so much of especially the South where you can never see anything because of solid forest for most of every state. You can actually see the spring tornado paths from satellite images of Mississippi/Alabama because of the hundred mile paths of trees being destroyed causing a small brown line across the state with forest everywhere else.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 11:16AM
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Honestly, I don't think there were many trees to begin with where our subdivision was built. The undeveloped pasture land behind my house has some stands of black locust, post oak, and cedars, but it's mostly just open prairie. They left a lot of the post oaks and black locusts standing on our street and just built the homes around them. Once all the baby trees mature, we'll probably have more trees than we started with.

Of course, the number of trees don't matter as much as the loss of habitat for the wildlife that lives in these old pastures, but we let the rabbits, birds, and possoms have the run of the place (as long as they stay away from my veggies and fruit). They were here first. The only things I kill on sight are poisonous insects that get into the house like scorpions and black widows. I'm also trying to plant more flowering shrubs and plants that help the bees and butterflies, but it'll take time for them to grow.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 11:28AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I do make that argument (and often!). I have seen how burned land that was cedar infested can and will come back strong with a much more diverse ecosystem than it had before the fire. Even now, when we see a dreadful wildfire like those currently burning in the Ponderosa pine forests of Arizona, I think to myself that once the fire is out, the land will make a good comeback with a much healthier, more diverse ecosystem. Remember when Yellowstone burned and how devastating it was to see all that destruction? Yet, it grew back so beautifully.

When we moved here, I often thought of David Bamberger and his Selah Ranch. I tried to apply to our very small piece of land some of the same techniques he used in Texas....like removing invasive species, planting natives and encouraging the ones we have to reseed and spread, and building water sources for the sake of the wildlife and the land. I felt like if he could do it on thousands of acres of cedar-infested land and could completely rejuvenate it, then surely we could strive to do the same on our little plot of a little under 15 acres.

It is with a lot of pride that I look at our land and see less cedar every year, and more of the native plants that the cedar displaces. I doubt we'll ever be rid of it all because at the back of the property, the cedar trees are huge, but we can keep removing the smaller ones for as long as we're able. And, back in our deep dark cedar forest at the back of the property, there is a thriving ecosystem of animals that like the deep, dark shade in summer, so I wouldn't take out all those big cedars even if I could.

Miraje, I bet you will end up with more trees, and better ones. Somehow the wildlife always manages to survive. We lived in an old neighborhood in Fort Worth that was built in the 1940s. We lived there in the 1980s and 1990s and you might think there wasn't any wildlife around if you just drove through the neighborhood. It was just your typical little post-WWII suburb with smallish lots and ranch-style houses that mostly were 3-2-2s. Yet, we had possums and foxes, lizards and snakes and frogs, birds and squirrels, etc. Some folks who lived a little on the outlying edge of our suburb often saw racoons and even an occasional deer, but we never did. I think we all have more wildlife around us than we think we do, no matter where we live.

And, since I mentioned David Bamberger's Selah Ranch Preserve, I'll link an article about it. I have followed his progress on the land for many years now. It is just such an inspirational example of how we can 'save' land that has been abused, misused or neglected.


Here is a link that might be useful: TPW Magazine Aricle: David Bamberger and Selah Ranch Preserve

    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 12:38PM
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We live on the south side of Norman in an area that was built in the late 1960s...we have all kinds of wildlife. Even racoons...they're fun. They eat shocking amounts of cat food. We really shouldn't feed those guys, but they don't bother us or any of our stuff at all and the kids love seeing them come up on the porch at night. Possums too...had a baby one crawl under our garage door. My hubby woke me up and drug me down to garage at 5am, opened a cardboard box and said look. That little thing hissed at me! Looked like the little hybrid monster from Alien vs. Predator! It was a hoot.

As far as the housing editions.... There are plenty of older homes for sale in Norman so I see no need to live in a cookie cutter on the west side. To each his own of course.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 5:10PM
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Most larger cities' zoning requires a certain amount of vegetation to be planted and maintained on the land of commercial construction (or otherwise) for these very reasons. I'm sure it doesn't solve a world of hurt, but it does help. Ever wonder why Walmart has those silly trees and bushes out there on the far end of the lot? Wouldn't be there if it weren't for the law.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 5:06PM
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