Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Tim Leeds 

Drought persists throughout Montana

Listing of recommendations and resources go out

 

Last updated 8/6/2021 at 12:31pm

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Bare banks and a dry boat dock show the low water levels at Fresno Reservoir. With drought continuing in the area, more calls are going out for federal assistance and recommendations and offers of assistance are being made to agricultural producers in the state.

With drought continuing to dry up Montana, listings of resources for agricultural producers are going out around the state and calls for more assistance are again being made.

Drought and problems like grasshoppers and blister beetles have decimated hay crops and are pushing cattle producers to sell off herds, and also are hitting the grain production of many Montana farmers.

Sen, Steve Daines, R-Mont., renewed a call Wednesday for U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide drought assistance to producers in all of Montana.

"Montana farmers and ranchers in every corner of our state are struggling because of the extreme drought conditions we're facing in our state," he said in a release Wednesday. "I will not stop pressing USDA for additional assistance and will work to ensure all of our counties receive necessary relief. We must do everything we can to support Montana ag, especially right now under these conditions."

The drought also is impacting irrigators with low water levels.

Levels at Fresno Reservoir west of Havre have dropped from more than 55,000 acre feet of stored water July 1 to 12,075 acre feet now as water was released for a final irrigation discharge.

U.S Bureau of Reclamation lists that as 25 percent of the average storage.

The drop in water levels is persistent around the state. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports drought conditions continue to impact the upper Missouri River Basin above Sioux City, Iowa. July runoff in the upper Basin was 34 percent of average. July runoff above Fort Peck Dam was the lowest in 123 years of record-keeping.

The updated 2021 upper Basin runoff forecast is 14.6 million acre-feet, 57 percent of average, Army Corps reports. If realized, that runoff amount would be the 10th driest year in the upper Basin since 1898.

System storage Aug. 1 was 53.9 MAF, 2.2 million acre-feet below the base of the Annual Flood Control and Multiple Use Zone, the Corps reports. System storage is expected to decline further into the Carryover Multiple Use Zone during the remainder of 2021.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, available online at http://droughtmonitor.unl/edu, shows most of the state, including much of Hill and Blaine counties, in extreme drought with two patches of exceptional drought listed. The remainder of the state is listed as in severe drought except for two small patches of moderate drought.

The entire state now is listed in drought conditions.

Montana State University Extension issued a release Saturday reminding ag producers of resources available, telling them to contact the county Extension agent for more information or listing where resources are available. The full alert is available online at https://apps.msuextension.org/mtagalerts .

Montana Department of Agriculture has reminded ranchers of its Hay Hotline, an online tool that connects people interested in buying, selling, or donating hay or pasture.

The Hay Hotline is housed on the MDA website at agr.mt.gov/Hay-Hotline. For more information on the Hay Hotline, contact the Agricultural Development & Marketing Bureau at 406-444-2402 or [email protected]

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks also is taking public comment on a proposal to open multiple wildlife management areas, including Rookery Wildlife Management Area near Havre, to haying and grazing. See a related story on Page A3.

 

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