As my friend and I marched uphill looking for water, we became alarmed. There were bones in the dry creek, a lot of bones, and no water. The dogs sussed out an elk carcass, and Oly found a leg, complete with hoof, that he went to work on. Hiking out the next day, they found another, also in the dry stream bed at about 10,000 feet. Although I have no scientific proof, it seems the elk in Lincoln National Forest may be dying of thirst. What about the rest of the wildlife, such as lynx and black bear and high-desert rodents?
Although the trip was fun, the hike stunning, the trail well maintained and all four of us still alive after pumping water from a snow melt puddle downstream from a nearly intact elk leg (which we called, affectionately, Venison Water, and Oly did have a little stomach upset this morning), the number of carcasses we encountered cast a bit of a pall over my usual relishing of the outdoors.
If that doesn’t send chills up your spine, I don’t know what will. Stories like this, though anecdotal, still make me think of the water woes we may be facing in the West in the coming years. What’s going to happen as people continue flocking to the Rocky Mountains (and other regions in our neck of the woods) and we continue with the urban sprawl that has become the norm:
Hydrologists looking to see whether an area of desert outside of Kingman will support 160,000 proposed new homes won’t be able to complete the study until at least two years after developers have started selling the homes, but after preliminary studies, state scientists and scientists hired by the developers already disagree how much water is there.
There’s simply no planning for ordinary water issues, and no contigency for a crazy drought should one occur.