Devils Lake was a big puddle in 1940, with a maximum depth of about two feet. Snowmelt and spring rains bring seasonal flooding; a lake with no natural outflow and many consecutive wet seasons, makes for a much bigger lake. Devils Lake will naturally drain to the Sheyenne River if it rises four more feet, however, drainage would only serve to stabilize the lake level at 1458ft (it was 1400.9 in 1940, about 1454 right now). Considering how flat the topography is nearby, four more feet of water would spread for miles, swallowing several towns on the verge of a slow, flooded death. 30,000 acres have been lost and two towns have already been evacuated.
I couldn’t help thinking how beautiful this was; pleasing to my eye, and to my cynical sense of justice. These wetlands spread for miles, unencumbered by typical definition and confinement (fences, roads, signage, and they aren’t on maps). Wetlands arise rapidly out of, simply, some water. Within years, and now about three decades since the most serious flooding began, plants and animals are in abundance. Sportsfishermen and boaters flock to the area. I rejoice at the growth of wetlands, while local residents try to find solutions. The solution is before us, says my inner Abbey, let it be. For every housing development or Wal-Mart overlying previously soggy ground, there is Devils Lake.
Nearby Minot has recently experienced flooding as well, a combination of seasonal rains and poor water control management. The often modest, although potentially mighty Mouse River begins and ends in Canada with a quick stop in ND. North Dakotans blame Canada for this one.
US 2, west, for many hundred miles. Right now I’m not sightseeing, just riding, so this’ll do.
This is also the ACA Northern Tier Route. Oddly, I’ve only seen one cyclist since Bemidji, MN (350 mi). Town parks offer free camping, and most people around here are accustomed to seeing sunburnt bums on bicycles. I’m not the first.