Governor Polis Joins Bipartisan Western Governors in Urging Federal Government to Declare Drought Disaster Declaration

Monday, August 16, 2021

DENVER - Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Western Governors sent a bipartisan letter to the Biden administration urging the President to declare a FEMA drought disaster in order for western states to receive additional federal resources. 

Drought conditions across Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and Idaho have reached historic levels, with 99% of the West in a declared drought compared to only 63% last year. These conditions have forced farmers across the west to make difficult decisions, including forcing farmers to sell their livestock or consider selling their land for development. 

Governor Polis visited Elk Head Reservoir State Park  Craig on the state’s drought tour and announced that the Colorado River District in partnership with the Colorado Water Conservation Board are doing their part to help farmers by releasing 677 acre-feet of water from Elkhead Reservoir to local farmers free of charge. 

“At this point there is little to no animal feed across much of the west, requiring farmers to import feed from out of state. Without substantial assistance, rural economies in our states that rely heavily on agriculture and natural resources will take years to recover from the effects of this devastating drought,” the governors’ letter to President Biden says. 

“We are eager to have additional conversations with you and your Administration about longer term strategies to make the west more resilient to drought, wildfires, and climate change. However, at this time we are requesting that you immediately declare a FEMA drought disaster in our states, allowing our agriculture communities to access funding beyond what is available through existing emergency programs,” the letter reads. 

By declaring a FEMA drought disaster, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and Idaho will be able to access federal resources beyond what is currently available through existing emergency programs. The Western Governors also requested that the Biden-Harris administration collaborate with the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior for additional livestock feed opportunities.

Read the Governors’ bipartisan letter to President Biden.