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Gov. declares emergency in Klamath County as drought worsens

Gov. Brown has declared a state of emergency in Klamath County as southern Oregon remains in an ongoing drought that shows no sign of letting up.

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has declared a state of emergency in Klamath County as southern Oregon remains in an ongoing drought that shows no sign of letting up.

The Monday declaration directs state agencies, including the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Oregon Water Resources Department and the Water Resources Commission, to provide assistance to water users in the region and to seek federal resources to help residents and wildlife, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Snowpack in the Klamath Basin sat at 60% of normal as of Monday, which prompted the declaration.

“It is already clear from snowpack and streamflow numbers: this will be another difficult year,” Brown said on Twitter. “I am committed to dedicating state resources to help.”

Central and southern Oregon are entering a third consecutive year of drought, according to Larry O’Neill, a climatologist at Oregon State University.

Klamath County has been particularly hard hit. Some residents have seen wells run dry as groundwater recedes. Contentious fights have also occurred over how to allocate the water in Upper Klamath Lake, which is needed by farmers, ranchers and two species of endangered fish that are cultural mainstays of Indigenous people in the region.

The county also was home to one of the largest wildfires in Oregon history last year. Climate scientists have long said that drought and heightened wildfire risk will become more frequent and more severe as climate change continues to push global temperatures up.

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