Nevada Seeks Federal Disaster Declaration

October 25, 2007

In a move to help ranchers and farmers get low-interest loans and other assistance, Gov. Jim Gibbons has asked for a federal disaster declaration because of drought conditions and a bad fire season in Nevada.

“The entire state has suffered extensive damage due to drought which has only been compounded by widespread wildfires during the 2007 season,” Gibbons said in a letter to federal Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner.

Boyd Spratling, head of the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, said the declaration sought for all 17 counties in the state would help ranchers get funds to make up for loss of production and to transport livestock to other areas where there’s more feed.

According to statistics from the National Interagency Fire Center, 777 wildland fires in Nevada this year burned about 895,000 acres. The acreage doesn’t include the Angora fire that burned 3,100 acres and destroyed 254 homes on the west side of Lake Tahoe in California.

While the fire season has been a bad one, this year’s Nevada total is less than the 1.3 million acres charred last year, and well below the record 1999 fire season when 1.6 million acres burned.

The state Wildlife Department has said drought conditions and the cyclical relationship between wildland fires and invasive weeds that fuel them perpetuate problems for Nevada’s high-desert landscape.

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