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BLM officials say drought plans helped

ELKO – Federal land managers on the Northern Nevada range said they’re in a better position than usual to deal with the blazing summer drought conditions thanks to some proactive steps they took back in the dead of winter.

Officials for the Bureau of Land Management said it’s possible drought conditions could force removal of livestock or temporary closure of grazing allotments in some areas.

BLM District Manager Doug Furtado in Battle Mountain said he sent out a letter to permit holders in January asking for their help in identifying steps ahead of time that they could take if necessary.

“We started identifying upfront actions to mitigate the drought if it were to materialize,” he said. “We’ve been going out and closely monitoring the conditions in our areas.”

As of last week, the bulk of Nevada was in either severe or extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor report on July 10.

Even though Furtado expects conditions to worsen, he’s hopeful voluntary responses would make it unnecessary to impose mandatory orders closing allotments, which would require hauling water or more reductions to the size of wild horse herds.

“I’m committed to working cooperatively,” Furtado told the Elko Daily Free Press.

“Our first and preferred approach is to communicate with affected permittees and seek the voluntary implementation of drought response actions with an emphasis on voluntary non-use,” he said.

Lesli Ellis, spokeswoman for BLM’s district office in Elko, said many permittees have voluntarily pulled some livestock already.

“We continue to monitor and work with them, and we appreciate the support that we’ve received from our permittees,” she said.

The most extreme drought areas in Nevada last week were in the far northeast part of the state along the Utah line, and northwest Nevada from north of Reno nearly as far as the Oregon line, according to the Drought Monitor.

In Southern Nevada, Lake Mead is expected to drop this year due to the lack of water.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority said the western slope of the Rocky Mountains would need at least seven years of normal snowfall to bring the area out of its 12-year drought.

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