Wyoming must do more to address life post-glaciers

Posted: Feb 3, 2011

Written by

Casper Star-Tribune

If there's any question whether climate change is having an impact in Wyoming, look no further than the high peaks of the Wind River Mountains, home to the largest glacial complex in the American Rocky Mountains. As detailed in last week's Star-Tribune series, "On Thinning Ice," the glaciers of the Wind Rivers are disappearing. The most dire predictions say the small ones will melt within the next several years, and all will be gone within the next 50.

The loss will be much more than the disappearance of a Wyoming novelty that interests only small numbers of researchers and mountaineers. The demise of the Wind River glaciers will affect animals, ranchers, sportsmen and many others.

For some ranchers in the basins fed by the Wind Rivers, the glaciers are the key source of irrigation water late in the summer. After the winter snowpack has all melted, glacial melt continues to feed the streams that make possible crop and livestock production. With little to no water in late summer, those industries could dry up as well.

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