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Drought task force considered by county

Jason Ferguson
Published: Thursday, April 18th, 2013

With the Black Hills—and especially the Southern Black Hills—neck deep in the grips of a severe drought, the creation of a Regional Drought Task Force is being considered. At the April 12 meeting of the Custer County Commission, county emergency management director Mike Carter said he pitched the idea at a recent meeting of area emergency agencies, and the idea is gaining momentum.
Carter said other county emergency management directors are taking the idea back to their respective commissions for feedback. Carter said ideally, the task force would handle primary and secondary drought concerns in the area, such as fire bans, burn permits, reserve water supplies, water restriction declarations and agricultural ramifications of a drought. By joining forces, Carter said, the area can have one strong voice as opposed to several weaker voices.
With the recent federal government sequestration and the scrutiny the federal farm bill is sure to face, Carter said it would be imperative for any drought declaration to be timely and backed by a strong voice. Because of that, if the drought declaration is done as a regional one, it is likely to be received more openly at the federal level.
Carter also told the commission he had scheduled a meeting with 14 county campground owners to discuss burn bans and said a format is being considered to exclude commercial campgrounds from burn bans this summer so they may continue to have camp fires even if a burn ban is in place. Carter said a set of parameters for being exempt is being created, but will definitely require the campground to have a 24-hour attendant on hand to monitor the fires.

With the Black Hills—and especially the Southern Black Hills—neck deep in the grips of a severe drought, the creation of a Regional Drought Task Force is being considered. At the April 12 meeting of the Custer County Commission, county emergency management director Mike Carter said he pitched the idea at a recent meeting of area emergency agencies, and the idea is gaining momentum.

Carter said other county emergency management directors are taking the idea back to their respective commissions for feedback. Carter said ideally, the task force would handle primary and secondary drought concerns in the area, such as fire bans, burn permits, reserve water supplies, water restriction declarations and agricultural ramifications of a drought. By joining forces, Carter said, the area can have one strong voice as opposed to several weaker voices.

With the recent federal government sequestration and the scrutiny the federal farm bill is sure to face, Carter said it would be imperative for any drought declaration to be timely and backed by a strong voice. Because of that, if the drought declaration is done as a regional one, it is likely to be received more openly at the federal level.

Carter also told the commission he had scheduled a meeting with 14 county campground owners to discuss burn bans and said a format is being considered to exclude commercial campgrounds from burn bans this summer so they may continue to have camp fires even if a burn ban is in place. Carter said a set of parameters for being exempt is being created, but will definitely require the campground to have a 24-hour attendant on hand to monitor the fires.

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