Drought Brings Montague County Many Worries

Right now, Hardeman County officials are considering implementing a burn ban. Several other Texoma counties already have. The wild fire threat has prompted Texas Governor Rick Perry to declare a disaster situation in 244 counties.

Since late October, Texoma has not seen more than 1/10 of an inch of rain in a single day. The lack of moisture is hitting agricultural producers and cattle raisers in Montague County especially hard.

Montague County Extension Agent Justin Hansard says the situation is tough. "Right now, the big concern is the dry weather were having right now with the heat that combination just doesn't make it any good for any winter pasture this time of year," said Hansard.

The lack of moisture and therefore pasture growth has forced many cattlemen to feed cattle hay. That adds to the cost of raising the cattle. Hansard fears a trickle-down effect on the local economy. "It would affect us because once we start feeding these cattle and putting that kind of money back into the cattle operation, we'll start seeing less and less spending at the other end because they're going to make sure they've got bills to pay and cattle to feed as well as themselves," he said.

Winter Wheat is also suffering. "Winter Wheat and winter forages are looking pretty bad we had some moisture, kind of early, in late September even we planted at that time period and had some good stands at that point but once we started grazing them off in October and November there's just no re-growth there," he said.

While Christmas is nearing, the growing concerns threaten to dampen spirits. "People's attitudes kind of fall down a little bit all be it, it is Christmas time; We still have some issues as to whether were going to be able to afford to feed these cattle in the winter time," said Hansard. "Right now you're thinking, how long can I make this work for me and or I'm already feeding hay and I'm worried how much longer I'm going to have to feed hay until I get any more growth out of that pasture or not," he said.

Beyond the financial strains, officials are worried about the looming wild fire threat. "Any time the wind picks up and the dry matter that we current have on the ground I mean were looking at issues that if the humidities start dropping and we have that problem, you bet a spark could set it off and as much forage and product as we have out there to burn its sure high danger," said Hansard.

Paul Harrop, Newschannel 6