Saturday, May 18, 2013

Road Tripping the North Canadian River

We went out for another road trip to explore the North Canadian River. I wanted to see if there was enough water to canoe the river. I had met a woman who said she had canoed the North Canadian at some point in the past. That was a shock on two fronts---that there was another person in NW Oklahoma that had ever been in a canoe, and that they had paddled this river. The North Canadian flows into Canton Lake. Since it’s rare that there’s water in the lake, how could there now be water in the feeder stream? The problem with the lake is that Oklahoma City has an insatiable thirst for water, and they are shameful stewards of the water. So since they waste all they get, there’s always the need for more. I have nothing to base this assertion on beyond a sense of the obvious, but someone had to get paid off for this agreement. According to newspaper reports, Oklahoma City has a contract with the Oklahoma Water Resources Board that permits them to take water any time they want, in any

One of the best sections of the road, but pretty, with lots of chittering birds.
 amount they want, for as long as they want, in total disregard of the consequences for communities up stream. There is no expiration date for the contract, no oversight, and no review, and according to the report, an act of Congress would be needed to reverse or modify the agreement. The only limiting factor is they have to stop stealing water from Canton Lake when the lake bed is dry.

A small alligator gar.  The largest captured was 215 lbs, and
the largest in Oklahoma weighed in at 153.1 lbs.
We crisscrossed the river at a number of bridges, and headed back into a protected area where we felt we would find the most pristine conditions. The road kept getting more and more primitive. Finally it degenerated into a grass path where we found a sign saying the road was closed from November 1 to February 15. We negotiated ruts, mud wallows, and ridges, places obviously better suited for a Jeep or Landrover than our Nissan. The lane finally ended abruptly at the south bank of the North Canadian. While we watched young gar swimming about, and enjoyed the placid scene, it was doubtful there was the 6” we would need to stay afloat.

A very shallow North Canadian, currently
discharging only 40 cfs.


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