Governor signs drought declaration for Klamath Basin

Klamath Falls, Ore. – Governor Kate Brown signed the drought declaration in Klamath Falls Tuesday morning.

“Today I am signing an executive order declaring a drought for Klamath County,” Governor Brown said. “I am directing state agencies to coordinate and prioritize assistance to the region.”

About 80 people met with the Governor at the Klamath County Government Center.

Klamath Basin mountain snow pack levels are less than half of average.

Governor Brown said the drought could result in losses of over half a billion dollars, and impact over 4,000 jobs. “It’s going to be a challenging year.  Drought, severe weather, and the upcoming fire season could create a very challenging situation.”

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Director Richard Whitman said the impacts will be felt beyond the farm. “In addition to water shortages and the difficultly it poses for agriculture, is the stress that it places on our other natural resources.”

Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Alexis Taylor said the declaration can also help clear the way for federal help. “O.D.A. is also able to try and help work with our federal partners at U.S.D.A., many of the drought assistance programs come from our federal partners.”

Governor Brown said she’s optimistic about the Klamath Basin’s ability to deal with the drought.

“I know we are facing some incredible challenges,” Governor Brown explained. “But I truly believe that you are strong, that you are resilient, and that together we can tackle these challenges facing this region.”

Governor Brown’s visit to Klamath Falls included meetings at the local Department of Human Services, and discussions with the Presidents of Oregon Tech and Klamath Community College.

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970’s.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.Lyle’s job history is quite colorful.

He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90’s as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.

“The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story”.

When he’s not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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