MALAGA, Wash. — Alyse Barnes figures it was mainly the grace of God that her 22 acres of cherry orchard escaped two wildfires last summer.
The massive Colockum-Tarps Fire came close on one side and days later the 10-Mile Fire brushed by on the other.
Now she wonders if her orchard, part of it along the Columbia River and part of it several miles away at higher elevation, will survive the great Wanapum reservoir drawdown.
The intake for her irrigation system, and those of her neighbors, normally are several feet under water. Now they are many feet out of water.
“This is pretty huge because not only are we thinking we may lose this crop, but we may lose our trees as well,” Barnes said. “Who knows how long we will be without water in this is desert-like country.”
Barnes and her late husband planted their orchards in 1969. They are in the Colockum-Tarpiscan country about 11 miles southeast of Malaga where she is postmaster. Malaga is four miles southeast of Wenatchee.
She hopes she can extend her irrigation pipe intake to the water and fears it may be months before the reservoir returns to normal level.
“They say no one alive has ever seen the river this low,” she said, “and that kind of tells the story.”