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Aerial photos of Devils Lake flooding

by Mike McFeely

Vern Whitten is a photographer from Fargo. He has been at the forefront of shooting aerial photographs of massive, swollen Devils Lake, N.D., and the affect it has had on farmland and homes in the region.

I asked Vern to share some photos with me so I could put them on this blog, as a reminder to everybody that while I often talk about the great fishing and outdoors opportunities in Devils Lake, many families have paid a price because of the rising water. Tens of thousands of acres of farmland are underwater -- and have been since 1993, when the lake began rising -- and those landowners have not received any compensation.

And, remember, most are still paying at least a portion of their property taxes on the underwater land.

Some quick facts:

*Devils Lake went from an elevation of 1422.62 feet in 1993 to its record June 2011 level of 1454.3 feet. That is a vertical rise of 31.68 feet.

*In March 1993, Devils Lake had a surface area of 44,230 acres. At its June 2011 level, it covered 211,300 acres. That is an increase of 167,070 acres that were inundated, or about 261 square miles.

*From  1993 to 2001, the volume of water in Devils Lake increased 7 times.

*Billions of dollars of economic activity have been lost due to the flooding. 

In 2013 alone, the state’s Lake Region lost nearly $200 million in economic activity, according to estimates from the North Dakota State University Extension Service. That includes 267 lost jobs and a $54 million reduction in crop production.

In short: It's a mess. 

So, keep that in mind even as we enjoy the great outdoors opportunities afforded by the waters of Devils Lake.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND CLICKING HERE: Here's a slide show Vern put together of some photos of the basin.  www.vernwhittenphotography.net/dev913 

You can sign up for e-mails from Vern Whitten by sending him a message at whittenaerials@aol.com.

Vern's web site is www.vernwhittenphotography.com

(Mike McFeely is a talk-show host on KFGO-AM in Fargo, N.D. He can be reached at mike.mcfeely@mwcradio.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcFeelyKFGO.)