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County Declares Drought Emergency-Be Careful With Fireworks

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners declared emergency drought conditions in Lincoln County from the State. Lincoln County resources including forestry, agricultural, fisheries, industries, and tourism along with the related economy are suffering widespread and severe economic damage, potential injuries and loss of property resulting from extreme weather conditions within the County. According to County Council Wayne Belmont, if approved by the state it will quality the county for certain resources providing State and Federal resources where needed.

Across the county annual water supplies available for farm, forest, recreation and natural uses as well as municipal water supplies within Lincoln County are a function of available water in the County watersheds and in various tributaries. Water supplies are in serious jeopardy this year. The Siletz River as of June 28, 2021, is flowing at 56% of average for this time of year. It is forecast to approach record daily minimums very shortly. The Alsea River is discharging at 50% of average for this time of year and already has set record historical daily minimums. Historically, seasonal hydro-logical averages for both watersheds trend down from now until September.

Members of the Mid-Coast Water Conservation Consortium, which includes Seal Rock Water District, and cities of Lincoln City, Newport, Yachats and Waldport are working on plans to increase water conservation awareness and actions, and increase resiliency during droughts and emergencies through alignment of mitigation and response activities, sharing conservation resources, and provision of consistent messaging to water consumers. In September of 2020 Lincoln County and the State of Oregon experienced one of the most severe wildfire seasons in the County’s history.

The Echo Mountain Complex Wildfire ravaged a large area of north Lincoln County, destroying or damaging over 300 residences and structures, and requiring the evacuations of thousands of persons. Survivors are still engaged in recovery and rebuilding as another fire season is imminent. The Lincoln County Fire Defense Board has restricted backyard burning effective June 1, about four weeks earlier than normal. The extended weather forecast for Lincoln County projects higher than normal 50 temperatures for July and August. Multiple priority in-stream water rights on both the Alsea and Siletz River will be invoked in the very near future to protect the aquatic life, recreation and fish and wildlife flows protected by those priority rights.

Given the drought situation, the commissioners further discussed the possibility of banning fireworks in unincorporated areas of Lincoln County. This is something that the city of Waldport has done. County Sheriff Curtis Landers told the board that enforcement would be very difficult. He recommended that the county focus more on education. There is an overall concern is with the dry drought conditions there would be a lack of water available to put the fires out. Locals and visitors are reminded that fireworks are NOT allowed on the beaches or in State Parks. If you do light off fireworks, it is recommended to have a bucket of water close by to douse your used fireworks in.

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