Date of this Version
In the October issue of Drought Network News, I briefly discussed two policy initiatives that developed in response to the severe and widespread drought that affected the Southwest and southern Great Plains states in the United States during 1996. The first of these activities, a multistate workshop (and its subsequent report), was coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This report was submitted to President Clinton in late August; it contained a series of recommendations that focused on short- and long-term issues. The second initiative, under the leadership of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), was not available in final form as we went to press with the last issue of the newsletter.
This report is now available and is summarized below.
In June 1996, the WGA adopted a resolution, sponsored by Governor Johnson of New Mexico: “The western governors believe that a comprehensive, integrated response to drought emergencies is critical . . .[and that] it is important to work together and cooperatively with other affected entities to plan for and implement measures that will provide relief from the current drought and prepare for future drought emergencies.” From this resolution, a WGA drought task force was created and charged with (1) coordinating the drought response needs of the states by immediately identifying barriers to effective response at the federal level; (2) working with existing state, federal, and private entities to develop criteria for assessing various stages of drought and corresponding emergency response measures and mutual assistance; and (3) sharing solutions and relief measures that can be implemented within the states and localities in the West. Beginning with a meeting of the Drought Task Force in September, four working groups (drought management, agriculture, water resources, and wildfire and forest health) began working on a report that was to be presented at the November 1996 meeting of the 19 western governors.