Crook County issues drought declaration

Asks state for same, citing still-low snowpack

PRINEVILLE, Ore. - The Crook County Court on Wednesday night adopted a "declaration of local disaster" and asked the state to declare a drought emergency due to the continuing impacts of drought conditions.

The commissioners also approved a letter asking Gov. John Kitzhaber to follow suit with his own drought declaration and a state of emergency.

The county order is the first step toward setting up government aid for farmers and ranchers.

The Governor's Drought Council plans to meet again on March 4th to consider additional recommendations.  Crook County is the fifth Oregon county to file such a motion with the governor's office.  On Feb. 14, the governor approved drought declarations from Malheur, Harney, Lake and Klamath counties.

Recent precipitation may have led some to believe the drought threat has ended, but current measurements show that's not the case, said county Emergency Manager Michael Ryan.

Current snow measurements as of Thursday morning at the Ochoco Meadows Snotel site, located at 5,430 feet elevation, were 21 inches of snow with a snow-water equivalent of 6.1 inches.

Ochoco Reservoir was at 33 percent full and Prineville Reservoir at 64 percent, "with no real snowpack to count on to fill the lakes," Ryan said in a news release.

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