Rim Fire Reportedly Kills
Hundreds of Head of Cattle
By Laurie Greene,
The California Farm Bureau Federation
reports that as firefighters work to slow the Rim Fire in the Sierra Nevada,
ranchers and timberland owners are trying to assess the extent of their losses.
Officials are calling the Rim
Fire one of biggest known wildfires in California. As of 7 pm PST today, the Incident Information System (InciWeb) assessed the fire to be 20% contained with extreme growth potential.
Cattle ranchers rescued as
many of their animals as possible, but cattle still perished in the flames that
also destroyed their grazing lands. Tuolumne County Farm Bureau is organizing
efforts to provide hay for cattle and displaced livestock. Thousands of acres
of timberland have also burned.
Stevie Ipsen, Director of
Communications for the California Cattlemen’s Association, explained that the
ranchers she has spoken with report cattle in herds of 25 to 30 have died, and
estimates are in the hundreds of head of cattle. It is unknown whether the fire
suddenly shifted causing the calamity, but Ipsen said it appears that ranchers
did not have enough time. Some have lost their homes or cabins as well.
Ipsen commented, “Some
ranchers have insurance, but the reimbursement is nowhere near the real market
Several livestock facilities
have been established for ranchers to take their cattle to safety.
Most cattle are not in the
mountains; rather, they are on valley-floor ranchland. Ipsen said, “Ranchers
bring their cattle up the mountain to graze at the discretion of the U.S.
Forest Service. Ranchers really provide a public service because the cattle
help the Forest Service manage overgrowth that becomes fuel for fire.”
“Recently, overgrowth on public
forest land grazing areas has been improperly managed due to increased public
pressure to cease the practice and less frequent annual NEPA (Bureau of Land
Management’s National Environmental Policy Act) assessments that enable the Forest
Service to dictate the locations, length of time and herd size of cattle
allowed up the mountain. “If NEPA assessments are not done fast enough, fewer
cattle are allotted for grazing.”
U.S. Congress House Report
(112-596-part 1) claims that project delays due to the NEPA process are caused
by the overly cumbersome program, which causes a lengthy decision-making process
for Federal agencies. Basically, lagging NEPA assessments are due to long
preparation time needed for NEPA-required document preparation and litigation
challenging the documents.
“All California forests are
in danger,” Ipsen asserted. “It’s a perfect storm—overgrowth and dryness.”
We’ll post updates as they
Labels: Calfornia Cattlemen's Association, California Farm Bureau Federation, cattle die, Forest Service, Incident Information System, NEPA, overgrowth, ranchers, Rim Fire, Stevie Ipsen, Tuolumne County Farm Bureau