Let's Hope For Late Winter Moisture

OUTDOORS UNDER THE RIM

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February is already upon us and those winter storms seem to be tracking far to the north. With the lack of snow pack, our Salt River lake system will certainly be drained down as the spring and summer months arrive.

It was only a few short months ago when many of the local streams were flooding. I hope we all understand how valuable that rainfall was just 10 months ago. Hopefully, the second half of our winter will give us that much-needed rainfall and snow pack.

Tom Meck, a longtime friend, former baseball coach, and principal at Payson High School would say, "The winter will begin when baseball starts in mid-February." This is one of those winters that I hope his prediction is correct.

Rain at the correct time is essential for Arizona wildlife. For example, during the late winter and early spring it can greatly improve the quail hatch. The sprouting of desert vegetation is necessary for young quail to survive. The last winter-spring rainfall produced a banner crop of quail for Arizona, and any moisture from now through April would enhance next year's crop of quail.

Winter and spring moisture also impacts the survival rate of our big game, such as deer, elk, antelope, and turkey. Moisture in the ground creates the conditions for the right kind of tender grass shoots for young animals to survive in Arizona.

This entire scenario also determines fish production in the warm water Salt River lakes. There was a tremendous spawn and survival rate last year of all game fish in Roosevelt because of high water and new cover being submerged. Consequently, fishing will be enhanced for a number of years to come.

With the lake still at 78 percent of the high water mark, much of the new cover is still submerged. That means spawning beds and cover for fry are currently in good shape for Roosevelt. But we must have winter snow pack in the White Mountains and along the Mogollon Rim to keep the present water level.

Spring and summer means higher usage of our valuable resource water. That requires the Salt River Project to drain down the reservoirs as demands increase. In time, this has an impact on fish reproduction and the future of fishing on Roosevelt Lake. Whether you are new to Arizona or a longtime resident, that famous quote "Water is the lifeblood of Arizona" is so true. All Arizonans need to wisely use this resource.

This weekend, take someone fishing and enjoy God's creation.

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