Brown declares state of emergency for drought in eastern Oregon


According to the statement, extreme conditions are expected to affect local growers, increase fire potential, shorten the growing season and decrease water supply.

PAT KRUIS / MADRAS PIONEER – Governor Kate Brown has declared a drought emergency for Jefferson and Deschutes counties as well as eight other counties. Farmers in Jefferson County have only enough water to plant half of their fields. The winds wash away the topsoil from their fallow fields.

The Portland Tribune and Pamplin Media Group papers are a media partner of KOIN 6 News

PORTLAND, Oregon (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) – On Tuesday, June 8, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed an executive order declaring a state of drought emergency in Jefferson and Deschutes counties due to lack of precipitation and a snowpack and an exceptionally low stream flow.

A second declaration includes the counties of Crook, Harney, Malheur, Sherman and Wallowa. They join Lake, Jackson and Klamath counties, which received drought designation earlier this spring.

The statement says: “Extreme conditions are expected to affect local growers, increase fire potential, shorten the growing season and decrease water supply.

“Farmers live in constant fear,” says Jefferson County Commissioner Kelly Simmelink. “Some told me they were terrified, and I don’t know what to do about them.”

At Simmelink’s instigation, Jefferson County commissioners voted Wednesday, June 9 to give the North Unit Irrigation District $ 10,000 from the county’s disaster fund for water marketing to encourage sharing of resources between basin partners.

“Agriculture is the backbone of this county,” says Simmelink, “and the economic ramifications are of the utmost importance. “

Jefferson County has junior water rights, which means all other irrigation districts in the Deschutes Basin are supplied first, although a higher percentage of water users in NUID are farmers who depend on water for their livelihoods.

“I am encouraged to hear,” Brown continues, “that local irrigators in these two counties are working together to seek creative solutions around sharing available water.”

In declaring the emergency, the governor orders the Oregon Department of Agriculture to seek federal resources to alleviate drought conditions and aid agricultural recovery in Deschutes and Jefferson counties.


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