Placing responsibility for the Great Missouri River Flood of 2011 on God ignores all of the ways humans have contributed to the disaster. It also absolves those partially responsible for the flood. Even worse, it hinders us from learning from the flood so that we can prevent a similar scenario in the future. Off the top of my head, I can think of five ways humans brought on this flood.
First, the Missouri basin states have lost millions of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres in the past five years. CRP lands had either slowed or halted runoff into streams and rivers. Encouraged by high commodity prices, plains and prairie farmers engaged in a Great Plow-up that converted sod to corn. Montana lost nearly 400,000 acres of CRP land between 2006 and 2010. That equals 625 square miles. The two Dakotas and Montana lost 960,000 CRP acres in 2007 and another 335,000 CRP acres in 2008. That land area is equivalent to 2,023 square miles. Even more conservation land went into corn in 2009, 2010, and during this year’s planting season. As a result of the Great Plow-up, drenching rains now hit cultivated cropland and quickly drain into the Missouri or one of its feeder streams. Farmers, and their desire to maximize production and profit, contributed mightily to this flood. Continue Reading »