Ranchers face less drought concerns than last year - KOTA Territory News

Ranchers face less drought concerns than last year

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At this time a year ago most Wyoming ranchers were dealing with drought conditions, but that is not the case this year.

"I feel the moisture depth is good in the soil. We should have a good year next spring," said Roger Reinke, a rancher from Sheridan.

While the moisture's good, Reinke says it's always nice to see more snow fall on the Bighorn Mountains.

"I would like to see some more in the mountains," said Reinke.

Andrew Cassiday with the Natural Resource Conservation Service says the snowpack in Northeast Wyoming is the best in the state and the state's total snowpack is much stronger than this point last year.

"A year ago the entire State of Wyoming was rated at least abnormally dry. As of today or a week ago it was just a little more than 50 percent. We seemed to have a pretty good fall and good moisture through the fall both rain and snow," said Cassiday.

A lot of the snow that fell earlier this month is still around and Cassiday says that's good news.

"I guess what we look for, in terms of soil moisture, is that it melts slowly and has a chance to infiltrate. The fact that it's hanging around is a good sign," said Cassiday.

But we'll still need strong precipitation over the next few months to avoid a drought in Northeast Wyoming.

"If we would not get the winter snow like we typically do or not get spring rains, it could end up a drought summer again," said Cassiday.

"If we get some spring rains, it'll get us through pretty well," said Reinke.

The U.S. Drought Monitor reports about six percent of Wyoming currently faces moderate drought conditions. A year ago it was 96 percent.

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