Irrigation in Wyoming

26 March, 2018

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 seoleg@seo.wyo.gov 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.

 

July 4, 2017 in Cody Wyoming

04 July, 2017

There is no place like Cody, Wyoming for the 4th of July.  People start lining their chairs up right after the parade is finished on the 3rd.  Our small town doubles in size on Sheridan Avenue during the parade on the 4th.  It is an exciting time topped off with lunch at The Irma and the Bagpipers playing 'Gary Owen'. 

Parade Line Up

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Our own Lance Bower, Vice President of the Stampede Board. 

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Yucca Plants

12 June, 2017

Soapweed yucca is a Great Plains species native to Wyoming. The lance-like leaves are stiff, coarse, and sharp but worth the blood-letting for the tall spikes of whitish pendulant flowers. Yuccas don’t bloom every year, but some years are phenomenal. Because of the shape of the flower, pollination can be accomplished by only a single species of insect, the yucca moth. Female yucca moths lay eggs in the ovary and then deliberately pack pollen on the stigma. The growing moth larvae eat the developing seeds but usually not all of them. Before the fruits open to disperse seeds, the caterpillar chews its way out and drops to the ground, where it buries itself, spins a cocoon, and waits out the winter. In the spring, the moths emerge just as the yucca blooms and wait at the flowers to find a mate. In our area, the Yucca tend to bloom about every 3 years.  Last year was a spectacular blooming year. This year there are some rogue plants. The photo is of one next to my house.   (information from University of Wyoming Extension)

 

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Opening of Yellowstone

19 May, 2017

The East Gate of Yellowstone opened May 5 and the NE Gate opened May 12.  This past Sunday we took a drive through the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, 15 miles north of Cody, and then through Cooke City to Silver Gate and the NE entrance.  Our first stop was a picnic lunch along the Soda Butte Creek. Then on through Lamar Valley to Tower Junction and then to Mammoth.  The day showed us so many sights and animals.  A day in the Park is a always a day to remember. 

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