Spared Rancher Faces New Pressures
Laurie Greene, Associate Editor
FIRE UPDATE: InciWeb reported TODAY at 6 pm that the Rim Fire has burned
235,841 Acres (368 square miles) to date and is 80% contained. The estimated containment date for the Rim
Fire is September 20, 2013.
County Agricultural Commissioner Vicki Helmar told California Ag Today
there are no cattle loss statistics yet because even though the Rim Fire is
becoming more contained, the fire is still burning, and the scattered cattle
are still being rescued and transported.
Rocha Zimmerly, CFO of Farms of Tuolumne
County, a countywide program for the support and growth of agriculture,
agri-tourism, and preservation of open space, said in addition to cattle,
livestock in the area includes sheep, goats, llamas and horses. Most of these
animals have been returned to their ranchers or relocated elsewhere in the
fortunate area rancher and former California Sheep Commissioner, Ann Shaeffer
of Big Creek Meadow Ranch in Groveland had taken fire prevention measures by
removing ladder fuel, and had downsized her cattle to decrease her feed bill.
said, “We dodged a bullet because the fire was all around us, but my sheep
ranch remained untouched. The ranch, one or two miles from the fire’s edge that
reached CA 120, suffered no direct loss from the fire.
Shaeffer is facing new challenges; the fire has forced wildlife such as bucks,
lions and coyotes to come down to her area in search of food and water.
Shaeffer has a great dog to protect her sheep, but, at present, her grazing
land and two ponds will have to be shared with these animals.
these pressures mean, “only time will tell how wildlife regroups itself,” she
concern for this burned-out region is erosion when it rains.
as many ranchers in the area, she has supplemental agribusiness with homestay
guests and local festivals. Her land contains an 1870 historic stagecoach barn
(which survived) where Teddy Roosevelt stayed while visiting John Muir. The
future of this secondary ag industry here is in question.
says the whole community pulled together by helping each other where they
could. Shaeffer took in her neighbors’ unsheltered livestock when his barn
burned down. He, like others, had insurance for the barn, but not for the new
shipment of hay housed in the barn.
summed it all up by expressing her gratefulness for her ranch surviving the
fire and by declaring, “this gives ‘wildfire’ a whole new definition.”