Monday, October 24, 2016

Ranchers rally

The flames of the Cottonwood Fire that blazed through western South Dakota have been tamed, and in the ashes of the now charred rangeland, the ranching community is banding together to help one another. Grady Crew ranches with his family near Wall, S.D., and his pastures were in the direct path of the fire that burned around 65 square miles on Sunday, Oct. 16. Officials declared the fire completely contained by 8 p.m. Tuesday, but have remained on-scene in the days since to monitor the area and prevent any flare-ups. “We have 20 quarters of land in Forest Service permits, and every single acre burnt except for 80,” said Crew. “We lost 30 cows and 20 calves, and I think we will end up losing a few more that were burned marginally bad and now have bad udders and eye problems. We lost corrals, water tanks and virtually all of our fences.” In addition to precious grass and cattle being lost, miles of fence lines were also destroyed. “Every fence is gone; it’s unfathomable,” said Crew. “Miles of fence will need to be rebuilt, and that’s a daunting task — both financially and the labor required to put up new fence. Some of these fences go back to the homestead days; this is generations of hard work lost in one afternoon.”...more

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