Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, “is being drained at a rate of 4,500 cubic feet a second” in order to sustain a growing dairy industry that’s migrated to Idaho from California. After the park’s reopening in November 2013 following the government shutdown, the water level set a record below 18% capacity. “Farmers are shifting from hard grains such as wheat to more water-dependent dairy feed crops — alfalfa, hay and corn — and that is causing increased demand for releases from Jackson Lake.”
Since 2011, the state of California has been the epicenter of an historic drought created by accelerated warming of the Pacific Ocean. A confluence of factors has led to water rationing and shifts in agriculture practices that grew up around an unsustainably wet climate pattern since the 1970s. The seemingly permanent shift to drier conditions will continue to impact natural habitats throughout the West, as industries migrate out of California to adjacent states.