by Claudene Wharton
With the 2014 drought looming, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension has partnered with other agencies to help Nevadans prepare for and cope with the drought. This spring, Cooperative Extension launched its Living With Drought website, a one-stop shop where homeowners, gardeners, farmers, ranchers, natural resource managers and others can find information to help them respond to their various drought-related challenges. The website is at http://www.unce.unr.edu/programs/sites/drought/. “We want to be proactive,” Mark Walker, dean of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, said. “We know that our offices in every county are going to be getting questions — everything from how to maintain lawns, to how to irrigate crops most efficiently during the drought. So, we have compiled information and links for various groups, and tried to make it easy for them to find.” Cooperative Extension chose to take the lead in helping Nevadans cope with the drought because many of its six educational program areas, including agriculture, horticulture, natural resources and community development, will be directly affected by the drought. “We saw there was information and websites that contain information about the current drought conditions, and much information about how to respond to drought conditions. But, the information is spread among a wide range of sources, which makes it difficult for Nevadans to know how to answer very specific questions,” Walker said. “We have a lot of that expertise in Extension. And, what we don’t have, many of our colleagues on campus and our other partners have. It was logical for us to develop a website that makes a wide range of resources available in one spot. It’s what Extension does; we respond to community needs.” Walker chose the “Living With Drought” model partly because Cooperative Extension’s “Living With Fire” program has been so effective. That program provides education to help Nevadans live more safely with the threat of wildfire. About 20 other states now also use the successful Nevada program. “Wildfires and drought are both facts of life in Nevada. It’s not a question of if they will occur; it’s a question of when they will occur,” Walker said. “These programs are aimed at minimizing their detrimental effects and the danger they can pose.” As part of the Living With Drought effort, Cooperative Extension is also offering workshops across the state to give Nevada agricultural producers information to help them prepare for the drought. Topics will include water availability, recommended irrigation practices, insurance options and an outlook on prices. In addition, Cooperative Extension will offer Living With Drought workshops for Nevada ranchers, including topics such as insurance options, how best to downsize herds, infrastructure recommendations, animal nutrition recommendations, availability of water for animals, and how drought affects plants and grazing options. These workshops will begin in May. As details become available, they will be posted on the Living With Drought website. Farmers and ranchers seeking more information on drought-related workshops can also call Cooperative Extension at 775-945-3444, ext. 12, for more information. Walker said homeowners, gardeners, landscapers and others should also check the Living With Drought website regularly, as Cooperative Extension’s various horticulture programs, such as its Master Gardener Program and its Grow Your Own, Nevada! program, will also be offering workshops and presentations with drought-specific information throughout the spring and summer. Or, contact your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office for more information.