An emergency drought declaration and a Skagit County-wide burn ban were announced Wednesday in response to a record-setting June heat wave that followed a dry spring and set the stage for a hot summer.
The state Department of Ecology issued a sweeping drought emergency declaration that excluded only Seattle, Tacoma and Everett.
Skagit County, meanwhile, announced it was issuing a complete burn ban to begin Friday.
A drought emergency means water supply is projected to reach below 75% of normal, putting hardship on fish, farms and other water users.
A drought declaration authorizes Ecology to provide emergency drought relief through the temporary transfer of water rights, expedited permitting, funding for public entities to address water supply issues and public education measures.
According to the drought declaration, Ecology, along with the state departments overseeing wildlife, natural resources and agriculture, are reporting signs of stressed fish, farmers and ranchers being forced to cut back on irrigation, and wildfires burning through dry vegetation.
There is little hope for relief before fall, according to the Ecology news release. Skagit County was last under a state drought declaration in 2019.
As for the burn ban that takes effect Friday in Skagit County, residents are asked to refrain from all outdoor burning.
Enclosed barbecue and propane fire pits (not outdoor pits with metal grates) are allowed on developed properties with water readily available and on noncombustible surfaces that are at least 10 feet from anything combustible. Charcoal barbecues are only allowed on private property.