HELENA, Mont. – Governor Greg Gianforte today issued an executive order declaring a statewide drought emergency in Montana.
“Every region of the state faces severe to extreme drought conditions, and the situation is getting worse. These alarming drought conditions are devastating our ag producers, challenging our tourism industry, and could bring a severe wildfire season,” Gov. Gianforte said. “This emergency order makes available all necessary state government resources to mitigate the impacts of this drought and protect Montanans.”
Executive Order 11-2021 directs the Departments of Agriculture, Livestock, and Natural Resources and Conservation to provide maximum assistance to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on drought-related activities to secure timely economic assistance from the federal government.
It also suspends regulations for motor carriers and persons operating commercial vehicles while they provide direct drought-related support.
According to data in the Summer 2021 Montana Drought Forecast Report released yesterday, the U.S. Drought Monitor indicates approximately 91 percent of Montana faces abnormally dry to extreme drought conditions as of June 22.
Approximately 14 percent of the state is in D3 classification (extreme drought), 34 percent in D2 (severe drought), 21 percent in D1 (moderate drought), and 23 percent in D0 (abnormally dry). Further, over the course of the next eight to ten weeks, drought conditions will likely worsen across most, if not all, of Montana.
Drought conditions at this point in 2021 are substantially worse than at the same time last year when approximately 52 percent of the state confronted similar conditions.
The July forecast projects below-normal precipitation throughout the state and a 40 to 50 percent chance of above-normal temperatures across much of Montana.
The governor’s executive order declaring a statewide drought emergency is effective immediately and can be viewed here.
Governor Gianforte also called upon U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to identify all counties in Montana as primary natural disaster areas.
“As we continue to see record-breaking temperatures from Libby to Glendive, 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 continued severe drought conditions on the ground,” the governor wrote in a letter to Secretary Vilsack.
With many Montana ranchers in need of forage, the governor also called on Vilsack to allow for emergency haying and grazing on all of Montana’s participating Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage.
“Because we expect record-breaking heat and associated drought, it is imperative that Montana can take advantage of viable acres of CRP land,” the governor wrote.
Gov. Gianforte’s letter urging USDA Secretary Vilsack to identify all counties in Montana as primary natural disaster areas can be viewed here.