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Oakley, Utah, a community of 1,470
near Salt Lake City in Summit County
(Wikipedia map)

The nation's five fastest-growing states are all in the Mountain West or Southwest, and all are facing severe drought. That drought has prompted many Western communities to halt development. In Oakley, Utah, for example, the drought has "depleted the natural springs that supply water to the community. During each of the past several summers, local leaders worried that quenching any major fire might empty the city’s water tanks," Alex Brown reports for Stateline. Though the city issued water-use restrictions this spring, constituents complained that the city continued issuing building permits, since new construction means more households using water, including newly-laid sod that would need to be watered."A rainy autumn has helped replenish Oakley’s water, and the city plans to drill a new well later this year. That should allow the city to double its water capacity and rescind the building moratorium," Brown reports. "But even as Oakley’s fortunes improve, communities throughout the West are facing difficult questions about water scarcity and what it means for future growth—especially because climate change is expected to make such droughts more frequent and intense."

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Farmers and ranchers in the Central Plains are intently focused on putting up the rest of the hay, preparing to harvest fall crops and eyeing …

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The next farm bill, due in 2023, was the main topic of discussion at the ag policy panel at Farmfest in Redwood Falls, Minnesota, Aug. 3.

Biden's 30 x 30 program calls for putting 30% of the land and water in the U.S. under permanent protection by 2030. "This is cause for grave concern among private landowners, especially farmer and ranchers ..." columnist Barb Batie says. 

With temperatures predicted to trend warmer than average through April, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is urging the state’s farmers and ranchers to prepare now to mitigate drought effects on both croplands and grasslands.

Chad Johnson saw two extremes on his Groton, South Dakota farm with severe drought in 2018 and flooding this year. “The heavens opened up and it rained, rained and rained. No one ever shut off the tap,” said the fourth-generation farmer. The 32-plus inches of rain his farm received led to a few deaths at calving and limited the number of acres Johnson was able to plant. 

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Many locations in South Dakota have already received as much precipitation this year as they do in an entire average year, and more of the sam…

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