Recent rains have made headway in reducing Kansas’ drought status, but there’s still a long way to go.

“We’ve definitely seen an improvement in the last couple of weeks, with the rains, but certainly the conditions earlier in the summer were bad enough to put us in the D3 drought status,” said Keri Harris, Franklin County Conservation district manager.

Recent rains for many areas of the state have led to government evaluation of current drought conditions. Tuesday Governor Jeff Colyer updated the Drought Declaration for Kansas counties with Executive Order 18-17. The update downgrades 55 counties, though Franklin and surrounding counties in eastern Kansas remain in a drought emergency.

“Kansas has been blessed with much needed rains recently and we are able to declare many areas of the state now drought free,” Colyer said. “We are still experiencing drought in the eastern portion of the state and continue to appreciate our federal partners at the Natural Resources Conservation Service as well as the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts for the producer assistance they are able to provide.”

With improvements in drought conditions the updated drought declaration now has 50 counties in emergency status, and five in watch status. This action was recommended by Tracy Streeter, Director of the Kansas Water Office (KWO) and Chair of the Governor’s Drought Response Team.

“Recent moisture has eased some of the drought conditions but we are still experiencing livestock water shortages, and forage production was less than half for most producers in eastern Kansas.” said Tracy Streeter. “Some areas of northeast Kansas are still behind more than 10 inches of moisture for the year.”

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

Franklin County remains in the D2, or “severe” drought status, with locations in the northeastern portion of the county still designated D3, or “extreme.”

“Even with the recent rains in the last month, there are still areas in the D3 status,” Harris said. “Things are comparable this summer to how they were in ‘12.”

Droughts are designated on a scale of 0 to 5, five being the most severe. Harris mentioned the resources available to local producers.

“Though Friday, September 14 there’s some supplemental funding available exclusively for water supply projects for livestock use,” Harris said. “It’s also recommended to have an up to date conservation plan, and a backup plan for livestock management. Water is the most prevalent concern, so if your pond goes dry, make sure you have a plan in place before the next drought. Some of our conservation programs through the state and through the federal farm bill program could assist famers before the next big issue comes up.”

Questions can be directed to the Franklin County Conservation district at (785) 241-7201.