Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a drought emergency Thursday in Harney County, bringing to three the total number of counties to receive a drought declaration in 2018.
The governor previously declared drought in Klamath County in March, and Grant County in April.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly all of southeast Oregon is experiencing moderate to severe drought. Winter snowpack has completely vanished in the Harney Basin, and is rapidly diminishing across the rest of the state.
Drought conditions in Harney County are expected to get worse in the months ahead, Brown said.
“To minimize the impacts of drought on the local economy and community, I’m directing state agencies to work with local and federal partners to provide assistance to Harney County,” she said.
By declaring drought in Harney County, the Oregon Water Resources Department may be able to issue temporary relief for agricultural producers such as emergency water use permits, water exchanges, substitutions and in-stream leases.
County officials requested a drought declaration on May 14, citing the potential for widespread and severe damage to farming, ranching, natural resources and tourism. The extended weather forecast also calls for higher-than-normal temperatures, and less-than-normal precipitation heading into summer.