MANAGING DROUGHTS: HOW IT HAS AFFECTED ECOSYSTEMS

 

California has weathered many droughts, including four in the past four decades. These ranged from a short, severe drought from 1976-77 to a prolonged six year one in 1987-92. The latest drought began in 2012 has been proclaimed by having the driest three-year stretch in over 120 years of recordkeeping in California history. This current drought has been more widespread than most, covering the entire state.

We have mentioned here before that droughts test California’s water management, exposing their weaknesses and teaching us how to improve the state’s ability to deal with water scarcity. We need to learn how the weather patterns change landscapes, animal species, and human culture. Learn from the latest drought and begin to prepare for the next one. Today we will be pointing out how the latest drought has hit ecosystems harder than ever.

Rivers throughout the state has experienced record low flow of water. This affects the conditions in which native fishes live in, compromising not only the species but key habitats for migratory bird feeding. With little advance planning for managing fish and wildlife during severe droughts, regulators have been forced to make hasty decisions. Without knowledge and almost no scientific review, it’s hard to know the long-term effects of these choices.