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Montana updates drought management plan

The drought preparedness document was last updated in 1995.

Farm Press Staff

January 3, 2024

2 Min Read
Dry creek bed
A creek bed is dried out because of drought.USDA ARS

Nearly three decades after its last update, Montana officials have unveiled the state’s new drought management plan, a framework to improve preparedness from prevention to recovery.

A team led by the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation has been working for the last two years to modernize the plan, which was announced by Gov. Greg Gianforte just before Christmas.

“In my first year in office, we set out to improve the state’s drought preparedness, monitoring, and response, and we worked with a wide range of water users in the state to modernize the drought management plan,” Gianforte said. “Our resulting, stakeholder-driven plan better prepares Montana to meet current and future drought-related challenges.”

The plan is structured to address key aspects of drought preparedness, incorporating robust monitoring and assessment processes, according to Montana’s Department of Agriculture. The plan also conducts a thorough vulnerability assessment across five primary water-use sectors, providing a spatial representation of the impact on social and ecological systems, state officials explain.

Understanding the vulnerabilities in different sectors is crucial for targeted and effective drought planning, officials say. The plan's responsive approach is further emphasized through state-level drought triggers and associated agency response actions.

Additionally, the plan compiles 36 stakeholder-generated recommendations to guide resource allocation over the coming decade.

“The launch of the Montana Drought Management Plan is a monumental step forward in our state's commitment to building resilience against the impacts of drought,” DNRC Director Amanda Kaster said. “This effort represents the perspectives and feedback of Montanans, and we look forward to this collaboration continuing forward.”

Convened by DNRC in 2021, the Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee comprises representatives from seven state agencies, bringing together a diverse array of voices from across the state. The extensive planning effort engaged hundreds of Montanans representing various water uses and interests, incorporating insights from technical experts, government entities, universities, non-profits, and businesses.

Source: Montana Department of Agriculture

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