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David Sparks Ph.d Disaster Declarations
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Idaho Ag Today
Date: May 08, 2017

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Jim Guthrie’s farm along the Portneuf River is under water.


At least 125 acres of the farm started flooding during the first thaw in late January and the river hasn’t lessened the grip on the land. He told the Capitol Press he won’t be back out in his pastures till June.


It’s the same story across Idaho. In the Magic Valley the first wave of flooding started in February and it has been a continuous threat since then for those living along waterways.  According to the Natural Resource Conservation Service, flooding could continue through July and that agency issued local disaster declarations to 33 more Idaho counties.


The NRCS says the disaster declarations apply to the counties that weren’t covered under President Donald Trump’s emergency declarations issued last week. Those counties include Bingham, Cassia, Elmore, Franklin, Gooding, Jefferson, Lincoln, Minidoka, Twin Falls and Washington; they’re first in line for federal assistance through a FEMA flood emergency program.


NRCS crews are out gathering data to try to determine how much melting snow will flow from the high country and when. “Today in the Boise Basin we measured 31-inches of water in the snowpack, the snow there is still 64 inches deep, thats 128-percent of average. In Eastern Idaho the snowpack ranges from 150 to 200-percent and thats why we issued disaster declarations because all that snow is going to melt,” said Ron Abramovich of the NRCS.


Across Idaho there are locations that have lost just a third of last winters snowpack. “When it warms up we can lose an inch of water a day of these snowpacks, When it gets above 70 we can see an inch of a half, ever more we know the rivers will be rocking and rolling,” said Abramovich.


“I really don’t think we’ve seen the worst yet,” said Curtis Elke, NRCS state conservationist  who says he’s adding NRCS staff to focus on flooding assistance.

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