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Wyoming governor asks feds for disaster declaration, citing weather conditions

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Chris Woodward

(The Center Square) – Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon has submitted a request for a disaster designation to the federal government, his office said this week.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the governor said that sustained winter weather starting in January has "caused significant distress" the Wyoming's livestock industry.

“Snow melt between events has been severely limited, and plant resources remain buried even with high winds,” Gordon wrote. “These conditions are impacting every county in Wyoming, therefore I request a Department of Agriculture Secretarial disaster designation for a period of impact from a January 10, 2023 through today.”

There are different types of disaster designations. Secretarial disaster designations are widely used but must be requested by state officials such as a governor.

“Mortality has been high thus far and is expected to increase well into the spring as a result of this exceptionally harsh winter,” Gordon said. “Snow removal has become a critical operation to keep animals alive.”

"State, county, local, and individual resources have been deployed and are being shared between entities for snow removal, but there is too much volume and wind to keep roads open and passable to gain access to livestock,” he added.

According to Gordon, Wyoming has been under some sort of weather warning or advisory for 66.5% of the time from the beginning of the year to the end of Fenruary.

“There has been no relief from the weather,” he said.

William Bunce, state executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency, signed the letter alongside Gordon.