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Lake County has an area of 8,275 square miles. Some of the species and organisms that rely on this watershed of Lake County are humans, beavers, geese, fish, bears, wolves, ducks, and cattle to name a few. The water in Lake County is used for irrigation, farming, and domestic purposes. This watershed Lake Abert and Goose Lake.

What people are talking about

Drought Information System shows most of Lake County is experiencing below-normal to low streamflow conditions (NIDIS, 2023). Given the location of the county in Southern Oregon, agriculture and livestock are a big part of their socioeconomic system. Most of these livestock, such as cattle and sheep, are at a D1 to D4 level of drought, meaning moderate to exceptional drought conditions, while in the fields, hay and wheat are also experiencing the same dryness of moderate to exceptional levels of drought (NIDIS,2023). Understanding how the animals and environment are being negatively impacted by this drought also puts into perspective what the human population must also be experiencing. If the citizens of Lake County do not have a good harvest season for their crops or livestock, this also impacts their economy on a personal level as well as possibly a state or national level if drought conditions such as these continue to show up in other states around the country.

A solution Lake County is and has been planning on is the possibility of creating new or improving old water treatment plants to improve the quality of water in their system (Jester, 2022) For example some plans include focusing on the water wells in town and completely stopping the use of a water well located in the northern part of the county or simply starting water treatment for all of the wells in Lake County. Over the course of the last few years, gray wolves and beavers have been pushed out by livestock and farmers who are using up the land of these keystone species (Winter, 2022). The gray wolf is already on the endangered species list and it is vital it comes off that list as soon as possible. Gray wolves play a big part in their natural habitat. For example, their primary source of food is larger animals such as deer. Therefore, they keep the balance of the population of that species while simultaneously leaving the remains behind for other organisms to eat and later decompose, keeping the environment and soil rich (Frank, 2023). As far as beavers go, they are not on the endangered species list, but they do provide natural dams in rivers that, in turn, help keep water quality clean, trapping good nutrients, as well as providing a home for little organisms, like insects, along the wooden homes they make. However, with both beavers and gray wolves being pushed out of their natural habitat, this could soon cause a big problem for the rest of the organisms and ecosystems they are a part of. A simple solution to this issue would be to remove cattle from big fields, where they graze. However, this is a conflicting situation because farmers want to keep their livestock and farms, but the reintroduction of keystone species is also vital to the environment. The Lake County Commission, the state, and even the national government are the only ones who can make concrete decisions and laws about who can decide what kind of rights farmers have. Nevertheless, proposing an idea to the local county officials that may save these keystone species can also propel and start the process of saving them and their habitats.

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