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Crook County Seeks Emergency Drought Declaration

OPB | March 10, 2014 3:11 p.m. | Updated: March 12, 2014 6:46 a.m. | Bend, Oregon

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A state advisory board is asking Oregon Gov. John  Kitzhaber to approve an emergency drought declaration in Crook County.  The request came  at a meeting Monday of the Oregon Drought Council.

Should the Governor approve that request, Crook would become the fifth Oregon county to declare a drought emergency so far this year.  Requests by Klamath, Malheur, Harney and Lake Counties were approved by the governor last month.

Council members had been anticipating a possible worsening of conditions in those southern counties.  But USDA hydrologist Melissa Webb reported that snowpacks across the state got a big boost during the month of February.

Some places experienced precipitation that was twice the normal amount. 

“Unfortunately, we had four dry months leading up to March 1st.  So, one month of wet weather can certainly not make up for four months of deficit,” said Webb.

Snowpacks remain well below normal for much of the state.  That could pose problems not just for irrigators, but firefighters as well. 

Oregon Department of Forestry’s Nick Yonker says what little snow is there should start to melt by mid-March.

“Essentially, we’re looking at another potential severe fire season.  It will all again, depend on lightning.  But in Southern Oregon, where lightning is common, that’s probably going to be a factor.”

Emergency managers continue to keep an eye on Coos, Curry, Douglas, Josephine, Jackson, Baker counties.  Those counties could make requests for emergency drought declarations if conditions worsen.

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