Local development is not the only area that has been adversely affected by the rainy season. Now with the flooding receding the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge is starting to see more amenities opening back up to the public.
After spending the last 10 weeks dealing with flooding in the area, Wildlife Drive and Bennett Lane are back open to the public.
“The flooding is going down,” Hagerman NWR Deputy Manager Paul Balkenbush said. “Hagerman Refuge is a low lying area in the flood pool. When Lake Texoma is in flood stage, it has an impact on our refuge. Some of our transportation corridors were closed. There were day-use areas and wildlife-observation areas closed. A lot of those amenities were underwater. Now that the levees have receded the workers are reopening many of those areas.”
The majority of the public-use and access roadways were closed to the public on some level due to the flooding.
All the roads have been reopened as of this week, Balkenbush said.
The hiking trails have been reopened as well, and two of the three day-use areas are back open. There is still some work left at Big Mineral’s day use area.
Balkenbush said this year was wetter than normal, but it wasn’t the most rains the refuge has had to deal with.
“Over the last nine months we’ve had three significant floods,” he said. “Flooding is a part of life here at Hagerman. It isn’t an anomaly but it doesn’t happen every year.”
Balkenbush said the largest economic impact the flooding has had on the refuge comes from the need to use funds from the budget to make repairs to areas impacted by the flooding, and while there were a number of trails still closed, there are alternative routes that allowed access to the refuge for people to use.
Richard A. Todd is a reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at RTodd@HeraldDemocrat.com.