The National Elk Refuge is reporting that the new irrigation system recently installed there apparently paid off during the drought conditions of the past summer. Statistics released yesterday by the Refuge indicate an estimated 11,677 tons of forage were produced this past season which is a 19% decline from the 1998-2012 average. However, the report quickly points out that considering the growing conditions, the amount produced thanks to the irrigation was 885 tons more than the amount produced over non-irrigated conditions. Furthermore, the report says the effects of irrigation on production were more pronounced in the southern portion of the refuge, which is the primary area used by wintering elk and bison. Production in that area was 13% higher compared to what would have been produced without irrigation. 7,600 tons of forage was produced in that area compared with an estimated yield of 6,710 tons had there been no irrigation.