Governor Kitzhaber yesterday declared a drought emergency in Jackson County in southern Oregon. Jackson County commissioners requested the emergency declaration this spring, and the State Drought Council considered the county's request by weighing current water conditions, future climatic forecasts, and agricultural impacts.
"Historic drought conditions continue in southern Oregon, and Jackson County is the latest to reach this critical point where we are threatened with water shortages and low streamflows later this year," said Governor Kitzhaber. "We are working at the local, state, and federal levels to reduce threats to agriculture, recreation, and natural resources in the county."
The Oregon Drought Council made its recommendation to the Governor following the April meeting. The Council meets monthly to assess water conditions around the state.
The Governor's drought declaration allows increased flexibility in how water is managed to ensure that limited supplies are used as efficiently as possible. In addition, the Governor is working with Oregon's federal delegation, state agencies, local governments, and other partners to coordinate efforts and mobilize actions to address drought-related issues.
The Governor's declaration follows announcements from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that it has designated six Oregon counties as natural disaster areas due to drought. In two separate letters, including one delivered today, Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that farmers in Jackson, Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Harney, and Lane counties and in contiguous counties are eligible for assistance, including emergency loans, from the Farm Service Agency.