Fifty years ago a program began in Bowman County that would radically change the way people perceived man’s role in the control of nature. It was a program that purposely modified the weather, to suppress hail and enhance rainfall, which was to benefit local farmers and ranchers. But now it will be the decision of county residents if the program should continue.
John Palczewski, who owns and operates a farming and ranching operation south of Scranton, began circulating a petition earlier this year to place on the November election ballot a measure asking if the county’s weather modification program should end.
A popular saying around Bowman is that there are two things people just don’t openly discuss: politics and weather modification. Many residents, including several farmers and ranchers, echo that sentiment.
But Palczewski didn’t shy away from the task.
After amassing 358 signatures, 13 more than required, he successfully submitted the petition and it was soon after approved for the ballot.
A simple question will appear for voters: “Should the Weather Modification Authority be abolished?”
“I never have liked the program,” Palczewski said. “We watch it every year and this year it really accelerated in June.”
After Palczewski had spoken with several local farmers about the program, with them asking what could be done about it, it became his mission to finally get the question on the Bowman County ballot, something that hadn’t been done successfully in decades.
One of his first conversations was with Darin Langerud, director of the North Dakota Atmospheric Resource Board, which regulates weather modification within the state. Palczewski tried to explain his side.
“It takes rain out of the county,” he alleged. “It’s doing the opposite of what it’s supposed to.
“We have no business messing with Mother Nature.”