Lt. Governor Karl Ohs
State Capitol, Helena, MT 59620 Phone 406-444-3111
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Anastasia Burton
April 2, 2001 (406) 444-5523
ADVISORY COMMITTEE ISSUES DROUGHT ALERT FOR STATE
(HELENA)---Lt. Governor Karl Ohs, Chairman of the Governor's Drought Advisory Committee, announced today that all 56 Montana counties have been assigned a Drought Alert status in accordance with the state's Drought Response Plan. The Drought Advisory Committee recommended the Drought Alert after a complete review of water supply and moisture data showed they are below average.
"Even though it's snowing today in most parts of Montana, the shortfall of snowpack water content will mean well-below average spring runoff to reservoirs and rivers," Lt. Governor Ohs said. "Our river basins have snow water content only 50 - 65 percent of average, and 20 - 40 percent below last year's numbers at this same time," he added.
The announcement follows a letter to all Montana county commissions in which the Lt. Governor urged commissioners to consider convening local drought committees to bring together representatives of affected interests to share information and develop local drought mitigation strategies.
Lt. Governor Ohs said, "The most effective approach over the years has been local planning and participation, along with technical and funding support from the state and federal governments. We are starting preparations early in order to make sure assistance programs will be funded and available to Montanans who need them."
A number of watershed groups were successful in implementing drought plans last summer, and county drought committees were creative in coordinating and securing assistance for agricultural producers and municipalities with water supply shortages.
For more information about relief and assistance programs, current conditions, and examples of local planning initiatives and successes, visit the committee's Drought 2001 Internet site at: http://nris.state.mt.us/drought, or call Jess Aber at the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation at (406) 444-6628.
The Governor's Report On The Potential For Drought will be released at the Committee's next meeting on April 19th in Helena. Lt. Governor Ohs and the Drought Advisory Committee emphasize that recreational and tourism opportunities still abound in Montana.