Livestock producers in fire affected areas identify needs, challenges, and opportunities

The sessions in the Jordan Valley and Frenchglen attracted more than 100 affected people and were the first steps taken by the newly created task force to advance their mission of directing assistance to fire-affected individuals, their families, and important business, along with facilitating information to help improve responses to wildfires in the future.

Curtis Martin, President of the OCA stated “The meetings went very well and I appreciate the livestock producers who took their valuable time to attend and let the task force know what their needs are and ideas for moving forward. Without their participation, we wouldn’t be able to gather the critical information needed to put together future recommendations.”

While no formal recommendations have been put forward by RESTOR at this point, several themes regarding potential improvements emerged in both sessions, including:

  • Importance of extinguishing rangeland fires quickly as to not lose plant cover which has dramatic impacts on livestock operations and wildlife such as sage grouse. The most important management strategy is to keep the remaining large tracks of high desert habitat from catastrophically burning.
  • Providing additional information, greater flexibility, and rapid response to livestock producers regarding access to federal lands in fire-affected areas as to enable them to make important short and long-term business decisions.
  • The need for more peer reviewed research and monitoring regarding the amount of time required before rangeland can be used again for grazing by livestock producers.
  • The need for additional equipment and training directed towards livestock communities who could provide greater assistance and coordination with government emergency services during initial attack response to control future rangeland fires.
  • The need to reauthorize important U.S. Department of Agriculture disaster relief programs which expired in September 2011 for loans and restoration costs.
  • The opportunity to learn from these events and work in partnership with a broad range of stakeholders to develop innovative solutions which could be used to respond to future wildfires.

The RESTOR task force will utilize input received from these sessions to develop solutions while working with land managers, local, State and Federal agencies, congressional representatives and other interested parties. The task force will also convene a Restoration Roundtable discussion in the Fall of 2012 to explore further improvements at the federal, state and local levels to reduce the frequency and intensity of wildfires, and to improve government and community responses when they occur.

Additionally, charitable donations of cash or in-kind contributions (including hay, supplies, transportation, and livestock relocation options) are being accepted online, via phone, or in person at the OCA office. To make a charitable contribution to the Fire Victims Relief Fund, or to offer in-kind or relocation assistance, please contact Kay Teisl, Executive Director of OCA, at 503-361-8941 or via email kayteisl@orcattle.com. Contributions can also be made online at http://www.orcattle.com/make-a-donation-ocsf.html.

RESTOR is as a task force within the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, a membership organization serving the Oregon’s livestock community working to promote environmentally and socially sound industry practices based on research and data, improve and strengthen the economic impact of the industry, and protect industry and property rights.