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Don’t Shoot the Messenger: A Spoonful of Fiction Makes the Drought Go Down

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Mary Poppins was onto something. And we don’t mean dancing with cartoon animals. That’s definitely a red flag of some sort.

We mean the whole spoonful of sugar making the medicine go down. It’s something we think about a lot here in the newsroom at The Messenger as truth—what we’re in the business of reporting—can occasionally be a bitter pill to swallow. It helps to be able to sugarcoat it now and then.

That’s why it’s such a bonus that our Short Fiction Contest came around right now. Though it’s difficult to wrap our minds around it with all the rain that dumped on Southern Oregon recently, on May 22, Governor Kate Brown declared eight more counties in Oregon as “Drought Emergencies.” This brings the total counties in Oregon declared as being in drought emergency status to 15—almost half of Oregon’s counties. The list now includes Jackson and Josephine counties. Klamath County has been in emergency status since March 20 of this year. With an April that maintained temperatures averaging well over higher than normal, and a wretchedly low snowpack over the winter, this summer is shaping up to be a HOT, DRY bummer.

And the lack of snow and rain is already showing impact. Low stream levels are critically affecting aquatic life- there is currently a 100 percent infection rate of tested chinook salmon fishery populations in the Klamath River, just south of here. The the low water levels in the river are causing high water temperatures, which is creating a perfect breeding ground for the parasite Ceratomyxa shasta, which thrives in these conditions, and is endangering the salmon’s lives.  While the infection is complete in the population, there is hope that if water can be let into the river, the die-off will not be complete. But with hardly enough water kept in reserve for when the summer is at its peak need, it is unlikely that the water will be released now.

A drive around the Valley reveals close to empty ponds, and barely-there reservoirs—even after a weekend of rain. These visibly low water levels will hopefully remind us all to be mindful of our water usages. This is certainly the year to ditch the green lawn, and embrace a yellower shade of lawn. Or change it up altogether, opting for Xeriscaping or other low-to-no-water lawn ideas. The dry winter, and the water restrictions that are sure to ensue could also cause problems for the urban farmer as the veggie patch won’t survive long without a healthy drink.

Gov. Brown, along with announcing the the emergency statuses that will allow for federal aid to the affected counties, announced the social media campaign #ORdrought. This hashtag campaign is being used to let  Oregonians know the current drought status, as well as offer tips and information to be prepared and to adapt to drought conditions.

With news like this, it’s no wonder we are all glad to offer some fiction in this issue.

But alongside it, you’ll find some important news about how drought could seriously affect energy generation. Thanks, Mary Poppins.

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