Drought declared in Crook County

Gov. John Kitzhaber on Friday declared a drought emergency in Crook County.

A thin snowpack and anticipated low stream flows prompted the county one month ago to seek a drought declaration, which the state Drought Council endorsed on March 10.

Kitzhaber’s declaration makes a number of relief measures available to farmers and ranchers, including temporary, expedited well permits, water-right transfers and changes in water-source rights. It’s a first step in seeking federal assistance, as well.

Ochoco and Prineville reservoirs are close to capacity, but without snowpack to refresh them, they will drop to lower-than-normal levels once irrigation season kicks in, according to county Emergency Manager Michael Ryan.

— Bulletin staff report