Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ranchers in Limbo: BLM has not released a plan to rehabilitate acres burned by Soda Fire

More than 10,000 acres of scorched land covers the Wilsey Ranch 25 miles outside of Marsing. As Ed Wilsey rides around on his ATV, he points out multiple graves he created for his cattle. He then points out multiple deer trails on a hill that leads to his land. “Every evening a big herd of them just come over the hill,” he said. Wilsey’s ranch was burned in the Soda Fire, which destroyed more than 400 square miles in Owyhee County and in eastern Oregon. Out of the 10,000 acres Wilsey used to graze his cattle, only 700 acres were his private land. The rest belonged to the Bureau of Land Management. According to a Bureau of Land Management spokesperson, a plan to seed and restore lost acres in Owyhee County is underway. In the meantime, Wilsey and other ranchers are in limbo. “It’s going to be at least two years before they let me back on the land,” Wilsey said. “So now I just wait and see what they say.” For the last few weeks, Wilsey has been tilling and tearing up his private acres that burned to prepare them for seeding. He said he’ll start seeding in the next couple of weeks using multiple methods. By using a mix of seeds, he hopes to start seeing growth by next spring...more

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