Wyo. County Declares Snow Disaster

April 14, 2008

The Carbon County, Wyo., Commission has declared the entire county a snow disaster area after a severe winter that caused hardship for some ranchers.

If the governor approves the disaster declaration, ranchers become eligible for assistance with feed costs if they choose to apply. Assistance comes from the Farm Services Agency.

Savery rancher Pat O’Toole said the winter has probably been the second-worst he’s seen in the last 36 years.

“Eighty-four was the last killer winter for us and it was the federal dollars that saved us then,” he told the commission.

It cost ranchers in areas hard-hit by snow this year two to three times their usual costs to keep their animals fed this winter because pastures they’d normally use were buried in snow and inaccessible, O’Toole said.

Commissioner Jerry Paxton said the southern half of Carbon County from about Interstate 80 down to the Colorado border had far more snow than usual this year and the snow stayed around longer.

“There’s no down side to a snow disaster,” he said.

Commission Chairman Terry Weickum said the Little Snake River Valley “got hit a lot worse than any place else” in the county.

Snowpack in the entire Little Snake River drainage was 122 percent of average last week.

Weickum said the commissioners “did a considerable amount of research” to make sure they weren’t harming anyone with the declaration, and found out the assistance has to be applied for and need must be proven.

O’Toole said it will take about two years for that financial assistance to actually reach ranchers.

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