Saying pictures are worth a thousand words, Texas agriculture, water, and parks and wildlife officials are asking the public, especially farmers and ranchers, to send them photographs of current drought conditions to be used to chronicle the damages of the ongoing drought.
"There is a large segment of our population, like those living in urban areas, that really don't know we are living in a time of severe drought. By collecting photographs that demonstrate the terrible effects of drought it provides the opportunity to promote awareness of just how serious the problem can be," said Tom Harvey, Branch Chief and information officer for Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) in Austin.
TPWD, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) and the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) have joined forces in an effort to collect photos of drought conditions to serve both as a tool to help make Texans aware of the drought, to promote water conservation, and as way to chronicle the on-going drought for the benefit of future generations.
"We hear a great deal about the Dust Bowl days of the 1900s, but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so if we can collect and post photographs submitted by everyday Texans that illustrate the seriousness and terrible damages of this drought, the hope is we can raise awareness and hopefully help people understand the importance of taking action to conserve our natural resources," Harvey added.
He said photos from farmers and ranchers might include failed crops, damaged fields, dry ponds and streams, and livestock. Photos from the general public could include low lake levels, dry swimming holes, and suffering yards, plants and gardens.
"The idea is to submit photos that show how the drought has affected you. Many of our lakes, especially west of Interstate 35, are at historic lows, river flows are extremely low as well, and yards are withering and dying as more serious water restrictions are enacted. Photos that reveal the terrible impact of drought is what we are hoping to collect," Harvey said.
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From now until September 30 (2013) Texans can share their original photographs on Flickr, Instagram and other social media platforms. Photos should illustrate how the drought is affecting daily life—whether it is dry creek beds, withered crops, native plants flourishing in the dry climate or the innovative water conservation measures Texans are using to combat drought.
Photo submissions are fast and simple
Photographs may be submitted to our Flickr group: “What does your Texas drought look like?” at http://www.flickr.com/groups/texasdrought. This is a public webpage that anyone with an Internet connection can view, even those who are not members of Flickr. The Flickr page (above) provides instructions on how to share photos.
Photographs also may be posted to Twitter or Instagram. Use the hashtag #txdrought when sharing your photos. The campaign’s Instagram account is texasdrought. When you submit photos, remember to tag photos with date, location and include a short description. Additionally, you can email up to three photos to TexasDrought@yahoo.com. Photographs must be original content.
“This current Texas drought, which started in 2010, has proven in many ways to be our worst drought in history. In fact, it has surpassed the Dust Bowl of the 1930s,” Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said.
“Every Texan has experienced the drought’s ferocity in different ways and these agencies are joining forces to collect and share these stories with other Texans, as well as for the historical record for future generations to appreciate the importance of drought preparedness and proactive, voluntary water conservation. We know citizen-led conservation efforts are our best alternative to mandated restrictions that can hurt our economy.”
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly the entire state of Texas is experiencing some form of drought, and more than 65 percent of the state is suffering from severe to exceptional drought. The state water plan dictates nearly 25 percent of our future water needs will be met through water conservation.
“At the Texas Water Development Board, we’re well acquainted with the effects of drought on our state,” said TWDB Executive Administrator Melanie Callahan. “It affects water supplies for cities and agriculture alike, and can devastate economies and natural resources. This photo campaign is a way for Texans to document how drought affects them personally. Showing the results of water shortages and ways to conserve are equally important parts of this story.”
Officials say the more the public is made aware of the terrible loss and damage that drought conditions can bring, the more they may be willing to help conserve natural resources.
"This is an opportunity to help spread awareness about the drought and ultimately to help people understand what they can do to help," Harvey added.