NIDIS Drought Map Hailey

The National Integrated Drought Information System is reporting severe drought conditions across a wide swath of Blaine County and parts of Custer and Camas counties, indicating likely crop and pasture loss for farmers and ranchers.

The drought impact area—which forms a circular patch from Hunter Creek Summit south to Timmerman Junction and Elk Ridge east to Blizzard Mountain—falls under the system’s D-2 category, the third level out of five. Other sections of Blaine County, including Magic Reservoir, Picabo and Carey are under “moderate drought,” which the U.S. Drought Monitor classifies as “some damage to crops and pastures.”

According to Bette Gower, secretary of Wood River Valley Irrigation District No. 45, surface water users in the northern section of the Bellevue Triangle have already been impacted by the drought. The district made two water delivery cuts on July 5, she said, and two more are expected this summer. Gower said the last significant early shutoff date due to diminished water resources occurred on July 7, 2013.

In the larger Water District No. 37 basin, which spans north-south from Galena Summit to Timmerman Junction, Gower said several water users have “gone out of their way” to make sure they have adequate groundwater access, and are now using well water to irrigate their land.

“Most water users have been really prepared for this [drought],” she said.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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