From Our President: Lack of Rain Is Problematic for Wildlife, Plants, and People

April showers are on my wish list this year. As I write this in early March, we are in a dry spell and are well below our normal rain and snowfall amounts in western Oregon. I will perform a rain dance if it will help bring us rain. At our property, spring began in February this year. A young satsuma pear tree was in full bloom before the end of February. Pollinators were out looking for flower nectar, but most were left wandering and wondering where their food was during the untimely warm days. Bats were out looking for food earlier than I’ve seen them before too. Many of the spring birds arrived at our property early—Turkey Vultures, Tree Swallows, Violet-green Swallows, and Rufous Hummingbirds.

How will the early warm weather and lack of rainfall affect the natural cycles this summer and fall? Plants and animals can adapt to a point, but for some, survival without adequate water may be difficult. Last fall we had two thirsty bobcat kittens on our property. The lower creek was dry, so they ventured up the hill toward our house. Our dogs chased one of them up a tree. Once I got the dogs inside, the young cat escaped. This year we set up a water tank and trough away from the house for the wild animals to drink from. It is one small thing we can do to help wildlife.

We use stored water for irrigation, but usually don’t need it until late June or July. I’m already watering some garden plants! Our house is on a well that has met our needs adequately each year. We use water wisely, hoping it will last, until the rains come back in the fall. We hope each year that the water table below ground is not exhausted. As more people move into rural areas, water will become a critical factor in our lives. All natural life cycles depend upon adequate water.

In previous years at this time, I’ve written about hearing the sounds of water all around, because we usually have the blessing of rainfall to celebrate. Indigenous cultures celebrate the coming of rain because it ensures a successful growing season. I know if our rains come in April and May, I will be celebrating. I take nothing for granted. Humans are part of this big earth ecosystem. Although many people try to ignore their vulnerability, we are indeed members of the biological community. We need the same things to survive as other creatures—clean air, clean water, food, and shelter. These are things we must treasure and preserve.