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News Release

Lt. Governor Karl Ohs
State Capitol, Helena, MT 59620 Phone 406-444-3111

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 21, 2001

Contact: Mary Jo Fox
(406) 444-3111

Lt. Governor to Meet With Congressional Delegation To Take Action On Drought

(HELENA) -- Lieutenant Governor Karl Ohs will meet with representatives from Montanaís congressional delegation on Tuesday, May 22, 2001, to discuss the critical drought situation facing Montana again this summer.

"The ongoing state-wide drought and after effects of the year 2000 fires make proactive planning and coordination between the State of Montana and our congressional delegates an absolute necessity," said Lieutenant Governor Ohs.

Lieutenant Governor Ohs indicated that staff members from Sens. Max Baucus and Conrad Burns, and Rep. Denny Rehberg have all committed to attend the 4 p.m. meeting.

State and federal agencies are currently working together on drought related issues, and further state and federal cooperation will be necessary in the event of another difficult fire season.

Many Montana producers have contacted the Governorís Office and expressed the great need to have the U.S. Department of Agriculture open Conservation Reserve Program land in the state for grazing. Lieutenant Governor Ohs and Governor Martz have sent letters to the Montana Farm Service Agency and Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman respectively requesting the immediate opening of CRP lands for a 30-day period. Lieutenant Governor Ohs says CRP grazing will be a key component of this discussion with the congressional delegation.

According to Lieutenant Governor Ohs, government agencies like the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are the key federal agencies involved in disaster relief and coordinating disaster resources.

Montanans are encouraged to be aware of the role individuals and local governments play with regard to drought and fire. The state of Montana maintains two comprehensive websites specifically dedicated to drought and fire information. Drought Monitoring 2001 can be found at http://nris.state.mt.us/Drought/. Montana Disaster and Emergency Services developed the Wildland Fire Information web site at http://www.opi.state.mt.us/wildlandfire/. Both websites can be accessed through Montana's home page at http://www.discoveringmontana.com/.

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