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Thousands of Washington State cattle short of food, forage due to wildfires

Washington State ranchers are in crisis after losing thousands of acres of grazing land, pasture and hayfields to wildfire.
Image Credit: Facebook / Emergency Equipment Solutions
September 14, 2020 - 5:17 PM

Washington State wildfires are taking their toll on the state’s ranches.

Valerie O’Dai is relief coordinator for Emergency Equipment Solutions in Washington state, a non-profit community support team that helps during natural disasters.

She says at last report 530,000 acres have burned in the Whitney, Pearl Hill and Cold Springs wildfires alone in central Washington, a majority of which is pastureland and hay fields.

“The majority of ranchers in the area have lost their winter supply, their hayfields and the pasture they would turn the cattle out to. They’ve lost everything,” she says, affecting 8,000 head of cattle, 150 horses and numerous smaller animals. “There’s a dire need for help. In the last 12 hours, I’ve been able to procure enough feed for two days for Okanogan County ranchers.Other areas have four to eight days’ worth of feed, but we need four semi-loads of hay per day to keep going."

Ranchers have benefitted somewhat from a huge outpouring of community support, but it isn’t enough.

“The local support from community members has been outstanding. It’s reinforced my faith in humanity. Unfortunately, we have astronomical needs that can’t be met locally,” she says.

It isn't clear yet how Canadians can help with the borders closed to COVID-19. Agriculture is an essential service allowed through the border, but no one we spoke to had any assurances or methods for how to help. More information may be coming out this week. 

Anyone wishing to offer support or feed supplies can contact Valerie at 541-663-6050.

Dozens of fires broke out in Washington State last week, driven by high winds and scorching temperatures.

Last Tuesday, Sept. 8, Washington State commissioner of public lands Hilary Franz said nine large fires were burning in the state with 58 new ones reported in the last 24 hours.

Several of those fires, including the Cold Springs wildfire and Customs Road wildfire, are within an hour’s drive of Osoyoos.

Three major wildfires in central Washington, the Whitney, Pearl Hill and Cold Springs wildfires,  have burned thousands of acres of ranch land.
Three major wildfires in central Washington, the Whitney, Pearl Hill and Cold Springs wildfires, have burned thousands of acres of ranch land.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED: Northwest Interagency Coordination Centre

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