On Tuesday Governor Jeff Colyer, issued Drought Declarations for Kansas counties with Executive Order 18-11 at a press conference with Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey and Kansas Water Office Director Tracy Streeter. The declaration includes all 105 counties either in an emergency, warning or watch status.

"The entire State of Kansas has been considered in drought or abnormally dry conditions for the past several weeks," said Colyer in a press release. "This has led to an extremely high risk of fire hazards and many have already occurred."

The drought declaration placed 28 counties in emergency status, 29 into a warning status and 48 into a watch status. This action was recommended by Streeter, Chair of the Governor’s Drought Response Team.

Over the past six months the state-wide average precipitation was only 66 percent of normal and in January and February the state-wide average precipitation was even less, at 43 percent of normal.

"While wildfires are the most urgent concern at this point, water supplies can be dramatically impacted in a very short period of time, especially as we start to enter into spring and summer months," said Streeter. "The Governor’s Drought Response Team will continue to monitor the situation closely as future outlooks call for drought persisting and make recommendations to the Governor as necessary."

McClaskey, who was also present at the press conference, remarked on the potential impact the drought could have on Kansas agriculture, saying, "The Kansas Department of Agriculture is committed to serving Kansas farmers and ranchers, especially during challenging times like the current drought.

"Whether that means making sure regulations and statutes are in place to move hay or working with our federal partners to gain access to additional grazing land, we stand ready to work with farmers and ranchers and all of our partners in agriculture."

Counties who are in emergency stage are eligible for emergency use of water from certain state fishing lakes due to the Kansas Water Office  Memorandum of Understanding with the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism.

County Drought Stage Declarations by county were:

Drought Emergency: Ford, Barber, Barton, Clark, Comanche, Edwards, Finney, Grant, Gray, Hamilton, Harper, Haskell, Hodgeman, Kearny, Kingman, Kiowa, Meade, Morton, Pawnee, Pratt, Reno, Rice, Sedgwick, Seward, Stafford, Stanton, Stevens and Sumner.

Drought Warning: Allen, Butler, Chautauqua, Chase, Cowley, Dickinson, Elk, Ellis, Ellsworth, Greeley, Greenwood, Harvey, Lane, Lincoln, Marion, McPherson, Montgomery, Morris, Neosho, Ness, Rush, Russell, Saline, Scott, Trego, Wallace, Wichita, Wilson and Woodson.

Drought Watch: Anderson, Atchison, Bourbon, Brown, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Clay, Cloud, Coffey, Crawford, Decatur, Doniphan, Douglas, Franklin, Geary, Gove, Graham, Jackson, Jefferson, Jewell, Johnson, Labette, Leavenworth, Linn, Logan, Lyon, Marshall, Miami, Mitchell, Nemaha, Norton, Osage, Osborne, Ottawa, Phillips, Pottawatomie, Rawlins, Republic, Riley, Rooks, Shawnee, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Thomas, Wabaunsee, Washington and Wyandotte.

For more detailed information about current conditions, see the Kansas Climate Summary and Drought Report on the Kansas Water Office website at www.kwo.ks.gov.