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Council Recommends Drought Declaration For 4 Ore. Counties

The Oregon Drought Council is recommending the governor’s office approve emergency drought declarations for four Oregon counties. Klamath, Malheur, Harney and Lake counties all have record low snowpacks.

The council made its recommendation after hearing from water and weather experts on the state water availability board. The consensus of that group was that the chance of these counties escaping severe drought is extremely remote.

Still, the short-term forecast calls for snow over the next few weeks. That prompted many board members to ask for a “severe” drought declaration rather than the more dire classification of “extreme.”

A severe drought means agriculture is especially hard hit. Droughts are designated as extreme when there’s not enough water for livestock or people.

The council could revise its recommendation at its meeting next month. It also could recommend drought declarations for four additional counties. Jackson, Josephine, Douglass and Curry counties all are experiencing severe drought conditions. But the council can’t recommend a drought declaration unless county commissioners ask for one. So far that hasn’t happened.