Last updated: February 25. 2014 11:42AM - 6293 Views
by Sue Hokanson, Quart Mountain Nature Park

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Last week there was a bit of good news on Lake Altus-Lugert. On Thursday, Park Rangers Reeves and Walker reported there was water flowing into the lake from the North Fork of the Red River. Yes flowing-not trickling in!

We haven’t had rain in quite a while. So where did the water come from? Melting snows in the watershed upstream finally topped off ponds and some water “ran off”. With upstream ponds full, any rain we get now will create more run off.

How much run off do we need to fill Lake Altus-Lugert? Only one inch-Yes one inch of run off from the entire watershed would fill the lake. Of course, it would take a lot of rain to create an inch of run off for the whole watershed as some rain would soak into dry fields. Other rain would fall into streets and wash down storm drains. We need a wet March through May.

In 2013, we had a very dry spring. March through May 2013, only brought about 2.81 inches of rain to the basin that acts as the watershed for Lake Altus-Lugert. The normal amount for that same time period is almost 7.4 inches of rain. So Lake Altus-Lugert made very little progress in being recharged before the heat of the summer really started dropping the lake level from evaporation. We need a wet March through May!

The other bit of good news about Lake Altus-Lugert was that small crappies were biting. Maybe we need to change the quote from “Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus” to “Yes, Virginia there are still fish in the lake”. Not many but some. The report came in from folks fishing the bank E-SE of the dam.

How could this be? Wasn’t the lake declared “dead”? Well some headlines screamed “fishery dead” but the actual report paraphrased said that ‘while no fish were caught in the survey period the entire lake was not sampled ‘. Again this is not a direct quote. Remember Lake Altus-Lugert is a large lake, even when it is very low. To survey in this situation, is to sample in many areas -not the drain the lake and count every fish.

In conclusion, last week was a good week for Lake Altus-Lugert. There was a bit of inflow and some fish were caught. Not a lot of either but I prefer to look at the glass as half full. Or in the case of Lake Altus-Lugert, it is almost 12 percent full. I’ll let some pessimist dwell on the flipside.

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