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USDA Issues Disaster County Declarations for North Dakota

Large swaths of southwest North Dakota are facing moderate fire danger, which may signal a returning drought. Dunn, Billings, Slope, Hettinger and Stark Counties have already been designated as natural disaster counties by the United States Depar...

The U.S. drought monitor shows 64 percent of the state experiencing drought conditions ranging from D0 – D4, while the North Dakota Wildland Fire Assessment System classifies much of western North Dakota as moderate fire danger areas. Photo courtesy of the Wildland Fire Assessment System.
The U.S. drought monitor shows 64 percent of the state experiencing drought conditions ranging from D0 – D4, while the North Dakota Wildland Fire Assessment System classifies much of western North Dakota as moderate fire danger areas. Photo courtesy of the Wildland Fire Assessment System.

Large swaths of southwest North Dakota are facing moderate fire danger, which may signal a returning drought.

Dunn, Billings, Slope, Hettinger and Stark Counties have already been designated as natural disaster counties by the United States Department of Agriculture after meeting requirements under 7 CFR 759.5(a) earlier in the year, as each county suffered from drought conditions during the growing season lasting for eight or more consecutive weeks.

The National Weather Service in Bismarck said fire weather watches and red flag warnings are issued when there is an "enhanced risk" for fires to get out of control-something that may be a future possibility if the trend continues. Representatives of the weather service said that a watch is typically issued a day or two ahead of time when they believe the conditions might be possible for a fire spreading.

The wildland fire assessment system, in collaboration with the federal land management agencies in North Dakota, identified most of western North Dakota as a moderate fire danger area.

A secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and those counties contiguous to such primary counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans.

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The FSA considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses on the farm and the security and repayment ability of the operator. Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers with further information.

When the fire danger index is high, very high or extreme/red flag warning, all burning (including outdoor/backyard fire pits, fireplaces, charcoal grills and smokers) is prohibited.

Failure to comply with the ban may result in a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by fines up to $1,500, and 30 days in jail.

The fire danger rating map is updated daily and can be found at nd.gov/des/planning/fire-danger-awareness/.

Related Topics: AGRICULTURE
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