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The flood forecasts are in, and all eyes in Ward and Renville counties are on the Mouse and Des Lacs rivers...waiting for the ice to thaw as winter transitions into spring at a delayed pace this year.
With forecast high temperatures in the upper 30s and low 40s for this week and overnight lows dropping below the freezing mark, the spring runoff seems to be on hold, but officials in the area are watching the rivers carefully.
Tom Pabian, refuge manager at the Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, noted that outflows at the
According to Pabian, upstream residents should have few concerns about high water and flooding in the short term. “Once the run-off starts, we have no control over that,” he added, “but everybody’s keeping an eye on it.”
One individual keeping a very close eye on the situation upstream from
He paused and laughed before continuing, “But it just doesn’t want to warm up!”
He noted that a sluice gate is placed over the end of a culvert at the south end of the Park to control flow. At the north end, 2’x6” planks are used as stop logs in the water control structure. “One reason we like to have that open in the winter is that it facilitates more water flowing through the Park,” Burbidge said. “But things today are contained.”
Pabian agreed. “They can keep ahead of what’s gong on right now.”
Both he and Burbidge referred to several sources of potential water between the Canadian reservoirs and
Darrell Iverson of Tolley, who serves as caretaker of
Burbidge was more cautious about the flood outlook. “We’re not going to make any guarantees,” he said. “We use the Internet to watch the gate readings at Sherwood. Right now, the elevation of the river at the Park is around 1,598 feet. If it gets to the 1601-foot gauge reading, we will order a mandatory evacuation of the Park. We keep Darrell [Iverson] in the loop and our [county] emergency response person.”
All water control activity along the
Water has been released from the Rafferty and
Iverson’s more immediate concern about the Park had to do with fielding phone calls about campsites. “It’ll all depend on Mother Nature,” he said about
He laughed as he described a conversation with one long-time visitor who called and reminded Iverson he pulled his trailer to the Park last year on April 10th.
“I told him, ‘You can bring your camper, but you better bring a scoop shovel, too,’” Iverson said. “You just don’t want to expect to go camping tomorrow!”
could peak fast
In the absence of a refuge manager stationed at the Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, Pabian and
On the refuge itself, the water levels are controlled by several structures. “Most of the problems with the Des Lacs runoff come downstream,” Pabian said. “Typically, we see a lot of runoff from up on Baden Hill and the coulees between Carpio and Donnybrook.”
He noted that he and Hogan would continue to track the water levels, but he emphasized conditions could change quickly for local residents downstream from the refuge. “Especially this late in the spring,” he added.
Further information regarding potential flooding, including the National Weather Service’s flooding forecast, maps and hydrographs of specific locations downstream along the Des Lacs and Mouse rivers, can be found on