PIERRE, S.D. July 13, 2016 – Gov. Dennis Daugaard has issued an emergency fire declaration for 13 central and western South Dakota counties that have been impacted by drought conditions.
The counties are: Butte, Custer, Fall River, Haakon, Harding, Hughes, Jackson, Jones, Lawrence, Meade, Pennington, Perkins and Stanley.
Gov. Daugaard said the declaration allows state government services to be used as necessary to help the counties that are part of the declaration. The declaration was recommended by the state Drought Task Force which was activated by the Governor this week.
“Widespread drought, low humidity and high temperatures have led to a serious fire hazard in those 13 counties,” said Gov. Daugaard. “Persistent prairie fires could diminish the feed and water supplies needed for livestock; or create hardships for individuals, businesses and governments by destroying public, private and agricultural property.”
The declaration allows one single engine air tanker (SEAT) plane to be stationed in Pierre and be managed by the South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Division of Wildland Fire. The plane will respond as needed to fires in the declared counties. If used, the state would cover 90 percent of the cost while the counties would pay the other 10 percent. Additionally, the SEAT will be available to use on prairie fires affecting federal and tribal lands through existing agreements.
“It has been a dry year in parts of South Dakota. Sixty percent of the land in our state is abnormally dry and counties primarily west of the river are experiencing moderate to extreme drought,” Gov. Daugaard said. “By declaring an emergency the state will be prepared to assist counties when and if fires break out.”
The Black Hills Forest Fire Protection District is not included in the declaration. The declaration period begins Friday, July 16, 2016 and will last no longer than Dec. 31, 2016.