Drought Woes Continue at Shasta Valley Wildlife Area

As of mid-January, the historic drought continues at Shasta Valley Wildlife Area. Last year’s wet season wasn’t very wet, with rain and snowfall at about 20 percent of normal. This was on top of the previous year, 2013, that was also considered dry by regional climatologists. The consecutive dry years resulted in two out of three water storage reservoirs being dry, or nearly so. The third reservoir, Trout Lake, is down about 40 percent. The wildlife area staff was unable to flood seasonal wetlands for the fall migration and had to cancel some public hunting programs.

A very wet December brought hope that this year would be wetter. The Little Shasta River swelled with runoff from the moist Pacific storms. Wildlife area staff took advantage of this opportunity and was able to divert a substantial amount for a few weeks. That flow has subsided now. What’s left is a long range forecast with little hope for significant rain and snow, and still nearly dry reservoirs. On top of that, snow pack in the watershed is only about 30 percent of normal. Typically, the heaviest rainfall occurs in this area in December and January, with February also an important month. Whether or not the drought continues will depend upon what happens in the next six weeks.

~Text and photos contributed by Wildlife Habitat Supervisor R. Robert Smith

Bass Lake Drought November 2014

Bass Lake Drought, November 2014.

Steamboat Lake, January 2015.  The fence post in the foreground marks the lake level when full.

Steamboat Lake, January 2015. The fence post in the foreground marks the lake level when full.