Dust Bowl Texas: The Drought’s Impact on Groundwater, State Parks, and Horses

The drought leaves nothing untouched. This week the ongoing drought impacts the state’s groundwater, state parks, and horses. 
Wed December 7, 2011 11:00 pm
Earl McGehee | Flickr

With the persistent drought arguably second only to Rick Perry’s presidential campaign as the state’s biggest issue, we take a look at the latest drought-related headlines.

Don’t let the rain and snow Texas has seen in recent days lull you into complacency: the drought is still here with us. “While rain is making its way across of much of Texas this weekend, it will likely not be enough to bring the state out of its record one-year drought. All of Texas east of Interstate 35, the highway that runs through the middle of the state, needs between eight to twenty more inches of rain to get things back to normal,” Terrence Henry noted at StateImpact Texas.

Houston readers got this reminder from the Eric Berger, the  Houston Chronicle’SciGuy blogger: “It’s worth remembering that the city of Houston is still more than 20 inches of rain behind its normal rainfall totals for the year.” Berger also pointed readers to NASA and the German Aerospace Center’s groundwater level map that shows much of Texas covered by a sea of red, indicating areas where groundwater has dipped to lows rarely seen in sixty years. 

Scorching temperatures, searing wildfires, and the drought kept visitors away from state parks this year, and now the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is asking for $4.6 million in donations to balance their operating budget, Farzad Mashhood blogged at Austin American-Statesman’s Salsa Verde. Revenue at parks across the state was down $1 million in August, a 25 percent drop.

The decrease in visitors fees, which make up roughly half the department’s budget, couldn’t come at a worse time, as the state legislature trimmed some 21 percent from TPWD’s budget this summer, Mashhood reported. Further layoffs could be imminent if the department cannot find another source of revenue, so TPWD director Carter Smith took to YouTube to appeal for donations, which can be made at this website.

With a decreased pecan supply (due to the drought) and increased demand (China wants our nuts), pecan prices have shot up. A

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