Special to the Parade

Great Outdoors pic-3-7-13In spite of all the tropical plants and birds and in relation to the Gulf of Mexico, we do live in a desert – the Wild Horse Desert to be exact.

Tales from the generations before us tell of dry years and how important water is to the area’s survival. Even our many resacas are proof of the mighty Rio Grande changing course and leaving pools of water, the liquid of life.

So how dry is it?

The above question was answered by spending a day driving around a well-managed South Texas ranch. It was very clear a drought is in progress. The grasses remaining are brown, the yucca is blooming, and wild animal’s not being fed, such as the whitetail deer are showing ribs. Some of the wild animals are not surviving due to the lack of proper graze and browse.

What little rain that has fallen hasn’t even come close to breaking the drought. This year, drought has spread over much of the south, leaving Oklahoma the driest it has been since the 1930s and setting records from Louisiana to New Mexico. But the situation is especially severe in Texas, which is the nation’s second-largest agriculture state behind California.

The crop losses include cotton, corn, wheat, sorghum and lost hay production. The estimates do not include those from fruit and vegetable producers, horticultural and nursery crops, or other grain and row crops. Also not included is the loss of wildlife and hunting income as well as livestock.

The Texas economy will take a hit from the losses. Agriculture accounted for $99.1 billion of Texas’ $1.1 trillion economy, or 8.6 percent, in 2007, the most recent year data on food and fiber was not available from the extension services. Losses in that sector have a ripple effect that’s about twice the amount of the actual agricultural loss.

One of the biggest problems that may be affecting the state is the lack of water. Many of the inland lakes are drying up. Although there has not been a water warning as of yet, unless something happens there will be soon in many of the large Texas cities.

Editor’s Note: To see more of Jim’s writing and photography go to: If you have comments or news for Jim Foster, email him at

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