More than 90 percent of Idaho’s counties have either been declared natural disaster areas or are bordering national disaster areas, federal officials say today – an unprecedented situation driven by prolonged drought. The AP reports that Benewah, Bonner, Clearwater, Kootenai and Latah counties were the most recent regions to qualify as primary natural disaster areas. The designation means farmers and ranchers in those counties are eligible to apply for low-interest federal emergency loans. Also designated natural disaster areas are several contiguous counties in Washington and Montana along northern Idaho’s borders. Jeff Mitchell, of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, said it’s unprecedented for nearly all of the state to be designated a natural disaster area because of a drought.
Just yesterday, Clearwater County commissioners declared a state of emergency because the drought is killing wheat crops there, with nearly two-thirds of this year’s crop lost.