Governor declares drought in 4 southeast Oregon counties

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Gov. John Kitzhaber has declared a drought in four counties in the high desert of southeastern Oregon and says more are likely to follow.

The governor said Friday from Salem the drought declaration applies to Klamath, Lake, Harney and Malheur counties. He expects Jackson County will be next, and more could follow.

Snowpack is as low as 20 percent and precipitation half of normal in some areas.

Kitzhaber says he does not expect mandatory water conservation will be needed in cities, but voluntary measures will help.

At the state level, Kitzhaber says, the drought declaration allows more flexibility in water management.

At the federal level, he says, the new Farm Bill includes drought help for farmers and ranchers.