Black Hills drought: Ranchers worried, Angostura not losing - KOTA Territory News

Black Hills drought: Ranchers worried, Angostura not losing visitors

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Severe drought conditions are covering parts of KOTA Territory this week. 

"Even if you're in a drought area this ground down here and you get a 10th of inch of rain and it will green up and look like a golf course," said rancher Wade Wilkens. 

But that does not mean ranchers are off the hook when it comes to the current drought.

"Technically I believe it's called a class D2, an extreme drought," said Wilkens.

Which has ranchers worried about conditions one shovel of dirt, or six to eight inches below the ground.

"Right now our top surface, it's pretty dry stuff," said Wilkens. 

Meaning ranchers will have to watch their stocking rates this summer, making sure their cattle have enough to graze on.

In the Southern Hills, Angostura Reservoir, a symbol of the drought.

"This is the lowest I've ever seen it," said boater Clay Pratt.

While ranchers are worried about the level of rainfall, those dipping their feet or launching their boats into the Angostura Reservoir don't seem to mind.

"As long as there's water in there we'll be coming out to have fun," said Pratt. 

The same is true for many locals and tourists to the Black Hills.

Convenient store owner Trish Rosane says business is as good as ever. "We're full, our campsites full every weekend," said Rosane. "Our parking spaces are full and everything is good." 

And while Angostura is not full, it's nothing the locals aren't used to. "This is South Dakota," said Pratt. "You're going to have a drought." 

Which with a couple of inches of rain, can change any minute, making ranchers as happy as those enoying the reservoir.

"Things could change for the better just as easily as they could for the worse too," said Wilkens.

The Angostura Reservoir is currently eight feet below full capacity.

According to Wilkens, this means ranchers will have to pay attention to grass and to water levels.

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