Wildlife refuge begins cleanup after flooding - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Wildlife refuge begins cleanup after flooding

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As flooding recedes, a bleak landscape is revealed at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge. (KTEN) As flooding recedes, a bleak landscape is revealed at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge. (KTEN)
Some facilities at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge are reopening as flood waters recede. (KTEN) Some facilities at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge are reopening as flood waters recede. (KTEN)

GRAYSON COUNTY, Texas -- The Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge is reopening some of its facilities as high waters from Lake Texoma recede.

Most of the 12,000 acre refuge was under water for more than nine weeks, and a lot of it now looks like a dead zone.

Hagerman must now deal with damage from the flooding, which left signs coated with mud, debris, and more to the landscape.

"There may be trees over roadways," said deputy manager Paul Balkenbush. "The flood waters a lot of times will bring in debris from the lake, and they'll deposit those across our roads and trails and in our farm fields. So all of that has to be cleaned up. It's quite an effort to come out of a flood and get it ready for visitation again, but it's something we're used to doing, and that's why we're here."

While there is a downside to the high water, Balkenbush said it's a "glass half full" scenario.

"It puts water in places where it typically isn't, so you might have potholes or wetlands that are created at least on temporary basis, which wildlife take advantage of," he said. "It can be good in that regard and bad, depending on how you look at it." 

Hagerman will host its regular Second Saturday program on July 13 at 10 a.m., focusing on the ecology, history and status of the American paddlefish and alligator gar.

"Things aren't looking perfect just yet," Balkenbush conceded. "We have some more work to do, but we're able to accept visitors in all of our areas that are typically open when we're not in a flood. We're back up and running."

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