Navajo Nation reaffirms drought declaration, elevates fire restrictions

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation reaffirmed a state of emergency declaration over the ongoing drought and increased fire restrictions from Stage 1 to Stage 2.

The tribe's Commission on Emergency Management on June 25 reaffirmed the declaration first issued in February 2018.

The reaffirmation will activate available emergency resources to help mitigate drought conditions, according to a press release from the Office of the President and Vice President.

"Everyone is aware that we are in a severe drought in the entire Southwest. With this declaration we will be able to direct more resources to help address the situation," tribal President Jonathan Nez said in the release.

The release states that the commission met at the request of the president.

The Shiprock pinnacle is seen on June 28 from Navajo Route 36. The Navajo Nation Commission on Emergency Management reaffirmed the state of emergency declaration for drought conditions on the tribal land.

Nez explained that efforts to address the drought include workers from the tribe's Department of Water Resources helping repair windmills and earthen dams.

In addition, he said the Navajo Department of Health and community health representatives are distributing water to older adults and people with disabilities.

According to the release, the tribal council's Resources and Development Committee approved $4 million for the divisions of Natural Resources and Community Development to provide hay and other resources for livestock.

More:San Juan County Commission declares drought disaster

The council passed emergency legislation on June 25 to recognize the commission's declaration and to call on the states of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah to deploy the National Guard to help the tribe with water delivery services.

Nez will have 10 calendar days to review and determine the resolution after it is sent to his office.

Stage 2 fire restrictions in effect

An executive order was signed on June 21 by Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer to implement Stage 2 fire restrictions to protect the region from wildfires.

"The threat of wildfires is very serious, especially in the Southwest. In the Four Corners states, there are multiple wildfires happening and the impacts are even more devastating due to the lack of moisture," the president said.

To report wildfires, contact the Bureau of Indian Affairs Fire Dispatch at 928-729-2307.

More:Water expert says San Juan County in relatively good position

The executive order prohibits the possession, manufacturing, sale or use of fireworks or other pyrotechnic devices.

Banned as well is the burning of debris or clearing fields by fire; fires fueled by wood or charcoal; and discharging firearms except when conducting lawful hunts under state, federal or tribal laws and regulations.

The complete executive order is available for review on the president's office website. For more information about fire restrictions, contact the Navajo Forestry Department at 928-729-4007.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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