Pork producers worst nightmare, African swine fever, has been reported in the Dominican Republic, a country that’s less than 1000 miles from U.S. shores. An outbreak of the disease in China in 2018 resulted in the death of 300 million pigs, and the disease is still affecting Chinese pork production.
The United States, the world’s second largest pork producer after China, has never had an outbreak of African swine fever and U.S. Customs and Border Protection has stepped up inspections of passengers and cargoes of incoming flights from the Dominican Republic. While the disease is not transmissible to humans it rapidly spreads through pig herds causing fever, weight loss, lesions and weakness that often kill infected pigs in seven to 10 days. There is no vaccine for African Swine Fever, so mass slaughters of pigs is one of the only ways to control the disease in infected herds. The USDA recommends that pork producers large or small impose biosecurity practices on their farms to limit access by anyone who has traveled to areas of the world that have outbreaks of the disease.
While farmers and ranchers in the southwest have battled the effects of drought this summer, communities and businesses associated with tourism surrounding Lake Powell have also been affected. According to a National Park Service report, Glen Canyon had 4.4 million visitors in 2019, making it one of the most visited parks in the country. Those visitors spent $427 million in Page and the surrounding area, which includes the northern part of the Navajo Nation, and it supported over 5,000 jobs in the area.
The Bureau of Reclamation reported that on August first, Lake Powell’s elevation was at 3,554 feet above sea level, and the agency pointed out that the hydropower plant stops generating power when it drops to 3,490 feet. Also as a result of these low levels, recreation has been severely affected on the lake. Out of seven public boat launch ramps at Lake Powell, only Bullfrog in southern Utah remains reliably functional, but it may soon become inaccessible. To augment water levels in the Lake, the Bureau of Reclamation is tapping up stream reservoirs to supply over 180,000 acre feet of water to Lake Powell this year. About 125,000 acre feet of water will come from Flaming Gorge Reservoir, on the Green River in Utah and Wyoming, 36,000 acre feet from Blue Mesa Reservoir, west of Gunnison, and 20, 000 acre feet from Navajo Reservoir, on the Piedra and San Juan rivers in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. Reclamation expects that these additional releases of water will be sufficient to protect Lake Powell’s target elevation of 3,525 feet through 2021.
On a lighter note, why do chickens cross the road? David Frame, Extension poultry specialist at Utah State University says that it’s actually the sand and gravel along the roadside that the chickens are drawn to. They like to pick at gravel that helps with digestion, and also dust themselves in the sand. So if you have poultry, provide them a place to do this at home behind fences that prevent them from wandering into roads.
Author Wendell Berry wrote, “Do unto those downstream of you as you would have those upstream do unto you.”