On Tuesday, Colusa County Agriculture Commissioner Anastacia Allen announced that in response to the local area experiencing recent drought conditions, USDA Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack had declared primary natural disasters within 50 California counties.
“Colusa County is named as one of these primary disaster locations,” Allen said.
According to Secretary Vilsack, the natural disaster designation was justified by the U.S. Drought Monitor, designating those counties as having Severe (D2) drought for at least eight weeks or extreme (D3) or exceptional (D4) drought at any time.
On the U.S. Drought Monitor map, released March 11, Colusa County is listed as Extreme drought, along with all or portions of 13 Northern California counties.
According to the Condition Monitoring Observer Report, counties in extreme drought are impacted by dry soil, active and longer fire seasons, inadequate grazing land, insufficient federal water to meet irrigation contracts, low river levels that impede fish migration, wildlife encroachment on developed areas (as native food and water become less available) wells and aquifer levels decrease, and poor air quality, among other concerns.
According to the report, in extreme drought, water shortages can become widespread, and water becomes inadequate to meet urban needs.
According to the map, only the Mojave Desert areas of Inyo and San Bernardino counties have worse drought (D4) conditions than most Northern California counties.
California’s remaining eight counties (Monterey, Orange, San Benito, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Ventura) are listed as having dry or moderate drought but are immediately adjacent to counties designated as primary natural disaster areas, and thus have been designated as “contiguous natural disaster areas,” officials said.
Only one California county, Del Norte, in the Northwest corner of the state, is listed on the map as having no drought, except for a small portion listed as abnormally dry. According to the map, most of the remaining counties are abnormally dry or have moderate to severe drought conditions.
In a March 5 letter to Gov. Gavin Newson, Vilsack said a Secretarial Disaster Declaration makes farm operators in primary counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met.
“This assistance includes FSA emergency loans,” county officials said.
Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the Secretarial Disaster Declaration to apply for emergency loans.
For more information or clarification, please contact the County FSA office at (530) 458-5131.