Nevada has been under a Drought Emergency Declaration since 2012. According to the Nevada State Climatologist and UNR Associate Professor, Douglas Boyle, “….we (Great Basin) have the same conditions now as there were in some of the 200-year megadroughts in the Sierra Nevada and the West.” To read the Nevada-Today article: University Drought Expertise
There are three main types of water reservoirs: snowpack, surface (man-made) and groundwater reservoirs. Snowpack is s seasonal reservoir with the largest potential for storage, surface reservoirs store less water but for longer durations, and groundwater aquifer storage varies significantly but is considered long-term to supplement the others during drought conditions.”
This drought condition has got to impact Nevada agriculture.. Professor Stringham (UNR CABNR) says that, “Severe drought harms plant communities and triggers shortened grazing seasons on public lands. She expects agencies will respond to the drought by changing grazing allotments.” This wasn’t the reason for the dispute “Nevada Rancher vs BLM”, but you can’t help but wonder what kind of response may arise if it does come down to shortened grazing seasons. (News story “Nevada Rancher’s Fight” ).
Both ranchers and farmers have seen significant shortages in water allocation. That impacts the availability of hay and the competition for that hay.
If you’d like to find out more information about the drought situation, visit the new UNR Cooperative Extension website, “Living With Drought” .