Governor Greg Gianforte today called on U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to identify 11 counties, including several in northwest Montana, as primary natural disaster areas. The governor’s statewide drought disaster declaration remains in effect.
“With unusually low snowpack and hot, dry conditions in northwest Montana, it is imperative that the U.S. Department of Agriculture aid Montana communities in accessing critical resources, such as the Livestock Forage Program, Emergency Conservation Program, and Emergency Livestock Assistance Program, to respond to continue severe drought conditions on the ground,” the governor wrote in a letter to Secretary Vilsack.
The governor requested drought declarations for Montana counties facing moderate to severe drought as of July 20, including Flathead, Lincoln, Glacier, Toole, Sanders, Lake, Pondera, Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli, and Sheridan counties.
Currently, the USDA has not identified any Montana counties as drought disaster areas.
The governor continued, “The Flathead River in northwest Montana is currently flowing at approximately one-third of its July average. Additionally, Flathead Lake sits more than two feet below its full pool level. As a result of sustained dry, hot weather forecasted through the fall, officials project an above-normal fire season for northwest Montana.”
Stressing the devastating impact of drought conditions on Montana agricultural producers, the governor urged, “Relief is needed as swiftly as possible, particularly for our agricultural producers, who are seeing impacts to forage and stock water availability due to drought conditions and low water levels.”