They're finally using the "D" word - officially at least...

Governor Doug Burgum has declared a "drought disaster" for nearly all of North Dakota, in order to pave the way for additional response and assistance from state and federal agencies.

The governor signed the executive order late Wednesday declaring a drought disaster for "counties and tribal nations experiencing extreme and long-term drought conditions."

The declaration directs state officials to coordinate with federal agencies to make drought response programs available. It also authorizes the North Dakota National Guard to provide personnel, resources and equipment to support drought response efforts.

In the official press release the governor said, "these extreme drought conditions represent a serious economic hardship for our farmers, ranchers and the entire state, while also putting firefighters under considerable stress...This disaster declaration is another step toward providing relief where it's most needed."

Last week, Mr. Burgum waived fees for commercial vehicles hauling hay, water and livestock supplies in drought-affected counties.

The state has also waived hours of service and weight restrictions and has also allowed the State Water Commission to reactivate its Drought Disaster Livestock Water Supply Program.

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