Oct 23, 2013 The Associated Press

Fall moisture eases drought statewide

CHEYENNE -- Ample precipitation has pulled most of Wyoming out of a drought.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Drought Monitor shows that only 39 percent of Wyoming is experiencing drought right now. That's down from 98 percent a few months ago. Cheyenne already has exceeded its annual average precipitation so far this year.

Cheyenne usually gets almost 16 inches of precipitation in a year. With more than two months left in 2013, the city already has had over 17 inches of rain and snow moisture.

Currently 36 percent of Wyoming is in stage one, or moderate, drought. Three percent of Wyoming is in a state of severe drought. No place in Wyoming is experiencing extreme or exceptional drought.

Slash piles can be burned

LARAMIE -- Recent snowfall is allowing U.S. Forest Service crews to burn slash piles on the Medicine Bow and Routt national forests in Wyoming and Colorado.

The agency estimates there are thousands of piles remaining on the two national forests. The burning program has been going on for the past several years.

Agency officials say the public should be aware of the burning and expect to see smoke.

Vern Bentley is fire management officer on the national forests. He says yearly burning of slash piles has become part of the agency's normal work program.

Two bentonite mines proposed

BELLE FOURCHE, S.D. -- A Wyoming company's application for a bentonite mining permit in western South Dakota was delayed because its paperwork was incomplete.

Bentonite Performance Minerals wants to open two mines northwest of Belle Fourche that would be known as the Purple Mine and the Killinger Mine.

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