High water on the Sabine moving wildlife around

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TF&G - SABINE RIVER FLOODING

National Weather Service Meteorologist Brandi Hughes said Lake Fork was releasing 1,900 cubic feet per second from its dam at the end of last week.

“Tawakoni is still running over the spillway,” she said, reporting 2,500 cubic feet per second spilling from the reservoir. The bulge in the river, affectionately likened by hydrologists to a pregnant anaconda, was making its way Thursday from downstream of Beckville toward Logansport, Louisiana.

“Things are slowly receding, which is good,” Hughes said. “But let me emphasize, slowly. I don’t see us getting back to flood stage — it’s going to be, maybe, next week.”

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Warden Todd Long said the river level became hazardous before Christmas. He said he helped with a water rescue on the Sabine near Texas 149 two or three weeks ago.

“Every few years, we get a flood, but this is the highest flood I have seen in my entire life,” said Long. I’ve never seen it get this high or cover this much property. Our duck hunters and our boaters are loving it,” he said. However, he urged caution to anyone testing the waters of the swollen Sabine.

“I want to strongly encourage folks to slow down, use common sense,” he said. “Have a life jacket on — not just available. State law says have one available, but I’m encouraging people to have it on. With so much current right now, so much water, so many underwater hazards, it’s just a recipe for something to go wrong.”

Troy Henry, Upper Basin manager for the Sabine River Authority of Texas, said he looked at river levels going back decades to see where this flood stands. “It’s unique and rare,” he said, noting 12.23 inches of rainfall recorded in December at Lake Fork where he is stationed. “December 2015 was the wettest December. And, looking back all the way to 1986, the second-wettest year was 1987 at 9.66 feet. So, in my opinion, we’ve shattered the record.”

The rain gauge at the Lake Fork dam recorded 74.99 inches falling during 2015.
“Everything that falls (here) has to work its way down to you,” Henry said. “The next-wettest year was actually 2009, at 68.49 inches. Then you have to go back to 1990, 67.65 inches.”

The water has displaced wildlife along with people. “Especially with our deer herds,” Long said. “As we speak, I’m looking at a lot of waterfowl that are up in the cattle pastures. Wherever the water goes, that’s where these ducks are going.”

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