Colyer’s executive order points to harsh drought in southwest Kansas, elevated fire risk

Jeff Colyer signs an executive order Tuesday afternoon declaring drought emergency, warnings and watches for all 105 Kansas counties.
Thad Allton, Special to the HDN By Tim Carpenter / Special to the HDN Gov.
Jeff Colyer joined the administration’s agriculture and water officials Tuesday to sound an alarm about evidence of drought in 28 counties and moisture shortages in 29 southwestern Kansas counties.
“The entire state of Kansas has been considered in drought or abnormally dry conditions for the past several weeks,” he said.
The most imperiled region is the block of counties running from Hamilton County in the west across to an arc shouldered by Barton, Rice, Reno, Sedgwick and Sumner counties.
The warning zone covers a swath one to four counties deep from the Colorado line over to Cowley, Chautauqua, Montgomery, Neosho and Allen counties.
The least threatened area includes counties on the Nebraska line, a large cluster of counties in northeast Kansas and the band of counties along the Missouri border.
In the past six months, state officials said, average precipitation in Kansas was 66 percent of normal rates.
In addition to the executive orders, Colyer said the administration would begin the process of seeking permission for farmers or ranchers to cut hay or graze livestock on land enrolled in the federal conservation reserve program.

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