Harsh Winter Causes Disaster Declaration in Carbon County, WY

February 24, 2017

While there is no doubt insurance claims will continue to roll into various agencies from ranchers and residents of Carbon County, Wyoming, it’s important to note that the entire county was declared a snow disaster area last Monday, after review of the impact of a severe winter on the ranching community.

If the Wyoming governor approves the disaster declaration, ranchers in the designated area will become eligible for financial assistance from the Farm Services Agency, and can be used to mitigate feed costs and other expenses.

Rancher Pat O’Toole, of Savery, said that this winter ranks as the second-worst he’s ever seen, telling members of the Carbon County Commission, “Eighty-four was the last killer winter for us and it was the federal dollars that saved us then.”

Ranchers in affected areas, O’Toole explained, had to pay two or three times their usual costs to keep their animals in feed, because their usual pasture land was buried in snow.

Commissioner Jerry Paxton said, “There’s no down side to a snow disaster.” He also said that more, and longer-lasting, snowfall was seen from the southern half of Carbon County to the Colorado border.

Terry Weickum, chairperson of the Commission, said that the Little Snake River Valley “got hit a lot worse than any place else.” As of last week, snowpack there was 122% of average. He added that the commissioners spent a lot of time on research before proceeding with the disaster declaration, wanting to make sure there would be no adverse effects.

Assistance must be applied for, and need must be proven, and it will take about two years before the ranchers actually see those government dollars.