On July 8, 2012, a lightning strike ignited one of the largest fires in Oregon’s history.
Six month later, Oregon ranchers who lost cattle and grazing land still haven’t received federal disaster aid.
The Long Draw fire killed more than 100 cows and calves and burned more than 870 square miles of federal range in the desert between Steens Mountain and the Owyhee River. Less than a month later, the Holloway fire burned much of the land along the Oregon-Nevada border that hadn’t burned in the Long Draw. A third summer blaze, the Miller Homestead fire, burned federal range land south of Burns, Ore. and killed dozens of cows.
Six inches of snow now cover most of the area that burned in the Long Draw and Holloway fires. The BLM has reseeded some of the range land, and has placed it off limits to grazing for two years in an effort to help native perennial grasses recover.
Rancher Richard Eiguren operates in the Jordan Valley area. He says after the fires, it is costing him five times as much to buy grass and hay to feed his herd of 650 cows. He says friends and family have struggled to find any suitable land for their animals.
“My dad’s been looking for grass for his cows, well, since the fire,” Eiguren says. “And he’s found one spot, but it’s ridiculous. And that’s all he’s found so far.”
Eiguren says little federal aid has reached those affected by the fire. The relief programs that help ranchers when they lose cattle and grazing land expired last year, and Congress did not include disaster relief programs when it extended milk subsidies and some other parts of the Farm Bill last week.
Congrats to David James for his winning submission, 'Annabella smelling the Balsam.'
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