Ward County residents are organizing on both sides of a ballot measure to renew the county’s weather modification program.
In the June 9 mail-in primary vote, a “yes” vote will continue the cloud seeding program, and a “no” vote will end the county’s participation in the program.
A group of Ward County residents announced a formal effort Thursday to oppose the renewal of the county’s weather modification program.
“Weather modification has been attempted for over 50 years. Only five counties out of a total of 3,242 in the country are currently trying to suppress hail. Ward County is one of them,” said Roger Neshem, Berthold, president of North Dakotans Against Weather Modification, in a press release. “Several scientific bodies have stated that hot cloud seeding is done in Ward County, it has not been scientifically proven to accomplish anything. However, it costs taxpayers a lot of money.
Friends of Ward County Weather Modification formed to support the ballot measure. Gail Yuly, Minot, said the group wanted to give voters accurate information about the program and help them understand the program’s hail suppression benefits.
Yuly and Neshem are both agricultural producers and members of the Ward County Weather Modification Board.
Other members of North Dakotans Against Weather Modification include Robert Schaefer, Travis Zablotney, Tanner Vix, JoAnne Rademacher, Marlo Stromberg, Joel Newman, and Rory Collins. Tanner Vix also served on the county weather modification board.
Ward County has had an average hail loss rate of 3.79% since 1916, Neshem said. That number fluctuates each year, but the long-term average is the same as before the county began hail suppression, he said.
“Surrounding counties that don’t do hail suppression, such as Bottineau, Renville, and McHenry, have much lower hail loss/damage rates than Ward County, which is contrary to popular belief. always told us about this program”, Neshem said. “If the weather modification program were to continue in Ward County, we would be spending nearly $2 million of taxpayer dollars over the next five years instead of spending that money on much-needed infrastructure like schools. or roads.”
Yuly said the cost of the program is minimal per acre.
The State Atmospheric Resource Board listed the cost of the program last year at 40 cents per planted acre and cited studies showing a 5 to 10 percent increase in rainfall due to weather modification. A North Dakota State University study found that a 5% to 10% improvement in rainfall provides an additional $9 to $18 per planted acre. The reduction in predicted hail losses due to altered weather patterns is estimated to be an additional $6.9 million per year statewide.
The Friends of Ward County Weather Modification will be conducting activities over the coming week to provide constituents with cloud seeding information.
North Dakotans Against Weather Modification invites voters to check out its Facebook page at facebook.com/NDAgainstWeatherMod/ and its website at ndagainstweathermod.com.