Declaring a drought declaration of emergency in Jackson County?

, Posted in Local, Regional, Weather, Posted: Tue, March 18 2014 at 10:23 PM, Updated: Tue, March 18 2014 at 11:57 PM

Medford, Ore. -- Governor Kitzhaber has already declared a drought declaration of emergency in four Southern Oregon counties, including Klamath and Lake.

Now, the county administrator wants something done here in Jackson County to  help protect those that livelihoods depend on water.

At their monthly meeting, members of the Jackson County Farm Bureau said thoughts of water, or a lack of it are on the top of their minds. President of the bureau, Ron Bjourk said "it appears that water may be a little short this year."   

Bjourk raises beef cows on his farm in Eagle Point.  "It's probably gonna be really dry out there really quick and that means the cattleman are gonna have a real problem," he said at Tuesday nights meeting.

The United States Department of Agriculture or USDA has estimated that in the 2013-2014 water year, the Rogue Basin is at only 60% of total average precipitation and what's even more concerning, average snowpack is at a  mere 31%. Bjourke said of the snowpack, "there's no snowpack, so there's not going to be any more water."

Eight long term monitoring sites in the basin have set new all time record low levels for snowpack. Some farmers, ranchers and orchardists rely solely on it and now their livelihoods are in jeopardy of drying-up. Bjourk said "water is the lifeblood of the ranchers."

That's why county officials are deciding Wednesday at a board meeting to ask Governor Kitzhaber to declare a State of Emergency in Jackson County.  Bjourk said he supports that decision, "I would think that it would be a prudent move to ask or get the county declared in a drought disaster."
   
The move will allow the state water resources department to exercise emergency water rights and put at ease the minds of many farmers and ranchers here in the Rogue Valley. "I would say that the county commissioners should go ahead and declare a drought," said Bjourk. 

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