Faced with the dryness of the mountain pastures, Bauges herders are thinking of bringing their animals down.

You have to climb a few meters in the barbecue lawn, above the meadow chalet on Mount Lauzarin, to reach the water tank. It stood there, about 1,400 meters above sea level in the Arclusaz valley, on the Savoy side of the Bauges massif. Rocks that have been laid there, can be found for miles around, interspersed with vegetation. But some have been carved here, placed next to the two flowers, silver carlines. Above, a marble board: “Souvenirs / Antoine Gimondi / Henri Lattat / June 6, 1965”. The story goes that two men died of suffocation as they descended to the cistern in search of water. “The war to keep the country is not an empty word”Jean-Paul Frenod, a farmer, runs a nearby mountain pasture.

In this AOP tome des Bauges production territory, this summer of 2022, we worry about this rain not falling, the animals no longer eating as much in the mountain meadows and even less so in the valleys. , even though the AOP specifications impose at least 120 days of full grazing during the summer period. It rained 15mm on Friday, July 29th, but it really wasn’t much compared to need. On the same day, the province of Savoy placed the region in a state of “crisis”, the highest level in the scale of the drought. “At the water level below 50mm, the situation will not improve,” Cédric Laboret, president of the Savoie Mont-Blanc Chamber of Agriculture, thinks.

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Searching for water and its sources turn to “Obsessions”, Laurent Ferroud, 59 years old, mountain pastor in Lauzarin, admitted, baker in the valley. But on these wide swaths of land that cannot hold water, the problem of resource scarcity has not been present since this year. “I can still hear my dad saying to me ‘We don’t play with water here’, after giving me a cake because I threw it at the dog.remember the mountain pastor. We don’t throw away water, we always reuse it three times. » So when spring comes, even today, “you must feel mechanical”, know when to intervene to take root. You also have to know these places well. There, for example, by crouching low and walking in the shelter of an old arched stone tunnel, you will come to a secluded basin.

“In fifteen days it will be empty”

Nowadays, supplies are scarce. “25 years ago, we told ourselves that it would be a long time before we would see water in the BaugesJean-Paul Frenod, 60, recalls. We tell ourselves that certain sources must provide. But not anymore. » Since the 1999 hurricane and 2003 heatwave, “Had a break” of climate, observing the sexagenarian. He has some of his heifers in the mountain pasture, a few kilometers away, and his dairy cows are down in the valley. He hasn’t taken them out at night for a week now, because of the lack of grass to graze. But “The thing that worries me most of all is September”. On the mountain meadow there is still grass for three weeks to a month. But water? It has a 300 m hill reservoir3but the beasts “Drink so much that it won’t be summer. If it doesn’t rain, if it continues to be hot, it will be empty in a week or two. »

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