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Around Park County, this time of the year brings residents and visitors many scents of the season, including blooming flowers, fresh rain… and smoke.
This is the time that many farmers and ranchers begin to burn their lands to make the soil riper for the upcoming planting season. Additionally, burning is a common way to clean out irrigation ditches that have had seasons of waste and weeds build up in them.
Irrigation is the key to our area’s ability to provide a healthy crop supply every year. As early (and even recent!) settlers of Wyoming quickly discovered, the arid lands of this area needed more than the 6-10 inches of rain to complete a crop. Construction of the Buffalo Bill Dam (six miles west of Cody) was necessary to bring water to the near 90,000 acres of dry, northwestern Wyoming.
Early settlers dreamed of implementing the canal and ditch techniques perfected in Europe thousands of years earlier to channel water to the area. In 1910, the 325-foot-heigh dam and its contained Buffalo Bill Reservoir were completed, as well as the rest of the Shoshone Project, which included a system of canals, tunnels, and diversion dams that continue to irrigate more than 93,000 acres of beans, alfalfa, sugar beets, and other crops.
Because of this complex system, farmers and ranchers had to quickly secure their irrigation water rights, and these rights remain important to today’s home and/or land buyers, as well.
Keep in mind that if you are buying property in this area that will require irrigating, there are many legal responsibilities to consider with your water rights. These responsibilities include (and are NOT limited to) digging and constructing drain ditches, sharing water with nearby land owners, and caring for your runoff water.
For more information about water rights and documents, contact your local UW Extension Office or Patrick T. Tyrrell, the Wyoming State Engineer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (307) 777-6475. The Department of Environmental Quality ((307) 777-7781), your local County Health Departments, and the National Resources Conservation Service (with the USDA) will have information about water quality, and your City or County Planning Office will inform you about any city or county zoning restrictions.
If you are building your home on irrigated land, special consideration of septic system and farm animal placement will need to be made, as well. Your UW Extension Office is always a good resource for expert opinions, and you can check out http://wyo.gov/seo/ for state information on irrigation and Legal Aspects Relating to Irrigation Ditch Rights and Easements.
For more information on Wyoming’s Water Laws, visit http://ces.uwyo.edu and click on publications for a summary of the laws in place.
Driving around and showing real estate around Cody, Powell and Clark is always an adventure. Sunday I was driving out the Northfork, west of Cody, on the way to Yellowstone to show a home. I just had to pull over and admire the elk soaking up the sunshine.
While driving around Clark, Wyoming and showing properties, I drove back to the Clarks Fork Canyon where the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River flows into the valley. Off to the right, up the mountain side, we were greeted by some Big Horn Sheep.
In the realm of my everyday work, I see beautiful mountain views that change with the season. Last week, I was out showing properties on the Northfork Highway, which is the highway to Yellowstone. On the way, we passed a herd of elk grazing in a field.
And of course, there is always a buffalo or two. What a day!
Every year, weather permitting, we take our 6 wheeler back into the Clarks Fork Canyon on Christmas day. The massive granite walls tower above majestically reaching towards the blue sky. The Clarks Fork River moves through partially frozen veins of ice.
Fall weather can cover a wide range. Mother Nature usually give us a warning of what is around the corner with a cold snap and then we are usually back to an Indian summer with temperature in the 50’s and 60’s. As the days get shorter, temperatures dropped as the sun goes behind the mountains. Sunsets are brilliant.
The Beartooth Highway usually closes by the first or second week in October. Closures in Yellowstone is weather dependent. Prior to the Beartooth Highway and the Park, we took one last drive through on 2 seperate days. Colors along the Beartooth Highway were brilliant. The elk in the Park were majestic.
The Absoraka Mountains, Beartooth Mountains, Shoshone National Forest, and Bighorn Basin that surround Cody are prime locations for hunting this fall. This area is renowned for its variety of wildlife, including some of the area’s best big game hunting opportunities. In this picturesque area, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, bison, mule and whitetail deer, mountain goat, antelope, black bear, and even wolves can be scoped and targeted.
The area has an abundance of animals like whitetail and mule deer and pronghorn antelope; in fact, Wyoming has more antelope (specifically, the North American pronghorn) than anywhere on the continent. Mule deer are also the state’s most populous and sought-after deer. These graceful and agile deer can be found in the mountains or creek beds, so hunters have a variety of backdrops from which to choose when hunting mule deer.
However, the state has a limit for hunting animals like bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and bison. Receiving a bighorn sheep tag is comparable to winning the lottery; the odds in a random draw are typically less than 1 percent, and once a hunter receives this license, he or she must wait five years to re-apply. Similarly, drawing for a mountain goat tag requires a lot of luck, and hunting either of these animals requires a person to hike or climb in high elevations and often steep terrain. In order to hunt bison in Wyoming, hunters have to apply for placement on the bison priority list.
Mountain lions are also hunted from September through early spring, and the fall and spring seasons are also open for black bear hunting. For both of these animals, though, only one lion or bear can be “harvested” by a hunter during any calendar year.
Finally, upland and migratory game birds like the various grouse species (sage, ruffed, etc.), turkeys, pheasants, geese, and duck (just to name a few) can be hunted, as well.
Outfitters can provide expert advice for hunting in the area, and there are many outfitters in and around Cody. For a full list of hunting outfitters and guides, check out http://codychamber.chambermaster.com/list/Category/outfitters-guides-133.htm.
For more information about hunting regulations or to apply for a hunting license in Wyoming, go to http://gf.state.wy.us or call the Cody BLM Field office at (307) 578-5900.
The renowned Beartooth Highway (Highway 212), is a 65-mile route over the Beartooth Mountains with the Beartooth Pass at 10,947 feet, and is surrounded by the Gallatin, Shoshone, and Custer National Forests and sits in a million-plus acre wilderness. The Beartooth Mountains, east of Yellowstone Park, are part of the Yellowstone Ecosystem. This highway is renowned as one of the most scenic highways in America and offers visitors extraordinary views of a variety of ecosystems; a range from pristine alpine landscapes, lush forests, to grasslands sets the stage for over 400 plant species to grow, which is more flora than any other mountain range in North America.
The Beartooths are home to over 300 pristine lakes and waterfalls, some 300 feet .
The Beartooth Mountains are some of the planet’s oldest rock with some dating at nearly four billion years. The highway, itself, is the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rocky Mountains. Twenty of the surrounding mountain peaks tower above 12,000 feet; Granite Peak (the highest in Montana) stands at 12,799 feet. Much of the area is covered by glaciers with glacial rock spread across many of the surrounding plateaus. There are about 25 small glaciers that exist today in the Beartooths. The U-shaped valleys were once V-shaped before the massive glaciers slowly ripped through the rocks. The name of the mountain range comes from a rugged peak that has the shape of a bear’s tooth.
While the majority of the Beartooth Mountains are protected as wilderness, part of the range lies outside the wilderness boundary. This unprotected area provides an incredible trail system to hikers, horseback riders, and climbers. Because of the abundance of wildlife ranging from elk to grizzly bear, it is important to take all safety precautions when venturing into this area. It is an incredible area and is right in our back yard.
Springtime is the time that many ranchers will move herds of cattle around to different pastures and on to BLM leases. A neighbor and friend of ours asked for some help this year. We have done this trail many times and it is always a gorgeous ride. This Saturday, we moved about 100 head approximately 8 miles. It was perfect weather for the ride. Everything went smoothly and all of us had a wonderful time and a wonderful ride.
This winter was very mild and spring arrived early this year. Our horses started shedding in February. They must have know something we do not. After a sleepy winter, there are other subtle signs of an awakening spring. One of the first signs is the yucca turning green. The yucca or soapweed yucca plant is found in the dryer areas of Wyoming. It has a beautiful white flower which blooms every 3 years. The sage gradually turn color and green sprouts of grass appear across the prairie. The blue birds have come back and I heard my first meadow lark sing this past weekend. You will often see smoke rise as the farmers prepare for planting and burn the irrigation ditches in preparation for water being turned on sometime in April. This will vary with irrigation districts. Plowing has started in Yellowstone National Park and roads will open up in late April and early May.