Friday, August 27, 2010

A Sinking Feeling

US-2 bridge over the Red River in Grand Forks.
Yesterday, Thursday, we moved from East Grand Forks to Devils Lake, ND. It's a drive of just over 100 miles and a bright sunny day made it enjoyable. I hadn't realized it when planning for our westward trek this fall, but US-2 through North Dakota is almost all 4 lane roadway... all but the last 10 miles at the border with Montana. Because it's not Interstate Highway, it's less busy and much more enjoyable. I believe most people just default to the I-roads when traveling long distance, and don't take the time to consider "lesser roads", which is OK with me. I'll continue to enjoy the uncongested and better taken care of "lesser roads" while everyone else battles the Interstates.


As we neared the community of Devils Lake, the lake started showing itself here, there, and then everywhere. We've learned that the area has been battling with rising water for over the past 17 years. You see, the lake sits in a basin with no outlet. Water flows into the lake but doesn't flow out. Since records have been kept, starting about 1900, the lake went through an extended dry period when the lake levels were receding, then a period of rising and, arguably, more stable levels. But in 1993 the lake started rising and hasn't stopped to this day. See the graph (click for larger size)...

Today, the lake covers an area almost 4 times larger than it was in 1993. It's risen over 25 feet, inundating farmland, homes, businesses, and recreation areas. The lake is ringed with dead trees poking out of the water. There are continual efforts to raise the levels of dikes, levees, and roads. The state has developed a project to pump water from the lake and into a nearby river that flows away from the lake. In my next post, I'll delve into this rising lake subject in more detail... after we've had a chance to explore and learn more.

Causeway to Grahams Island.
The first choice for a camp near Devils Lake was Grahams Island State Park. Yes, it's on an island but connected to the mainland via a causeway. But due to rising waters, the island is getting smaller and the causeway is nearly in the lake.

We found the Park and Campground to be to our liking and set up camp. On Friday we'll explore the area in greater detail.

Looking for my life vest...
T