Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wildfires threaten ranches' future

It's been a tough summer for ranchers in southeastern Oregon and northern Nevada. Three wildfires devastated nearly 1.2 million acres, much of it government grazing allotments, and killed cattle. At the 12-Mile Ranch, owners Richard and Jeanette Yturriondobeitia lost half of their herd of 300 cattle to the Long Draw Fire. They and other ranchers in the area have had to buy hay or find other sources of feed for the cattle that remain. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management said it may allow grazing next year of some unburned allotments but it likely will be two years before cattle are allowed on the areas that burned. Seven or eight ranches are in "heavy trouble," said Bob Skinner, a Jordan Valley rancher and past president of the Oregon Cattlemen's Association. "They are still foundering, trying to find pasture and hold things together," Skinner said. "It takes time for them to know how long they can hang on." The wildfires, and the uncertainty they leave in their wake, mark a turning point for ranchers of the Trout Creek Mountains. They say they sacrificed for two decades to rebuild the grazing allotments, only to watch them go up in flames. And pervasive talk of imposing wilderness designations on some of the area has them worried about how serious BLM managers are about helping them get back on their feet...more

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