Malheur County declares drought emergency, expecting ‘severe economic damage’

Ranchers and farmers are bracing for an upcoming growing and harvest season haunted by the specter of drought. (The Enterprise/FILE)

VALE – Malheur County is forecasting “widespread and severe economic damage” because of the area’s drought conditions, according to a county declaration of emergency.

The Malheur County Court approved the declaration on Wednesday, April 6, and asked Gov. Kate Brown to declare a state emergency as well to open the doors for state aid.

At stake is millions in sales from agriculture and livestock production and a series of climatic conditions that could dry out the high desert steppes of southeastern Oregon and create ideal conditions for range fires.

The county now is in severe to extreme drought conditions, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s drought information system.

The governor . . .