When Disaster Strikes, Band Together
By Jena McRell | Angus Media
Racing across the prairie, recent wildfires left a painful mark on hundreds of thousands of acres of grassland in four states.
High-level winds and dry conditions on Monday, March 6, fueled the flames that quickly spread across Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado — scorching pastures and offering little time for cattle ranchers to attempt to rescue their stock.
Six people lost their lives to the flames, and reports say many of those were rushing to protect their livestock from the intense and unforgiving flames.
Texas reports the highest death toll at four people, and early estimates show Kansas with the highest acreage affected. More than 650,000 acres burned in the southwest and central regions of the state. Evacuations were ordered in small towns and communities across the Plains, and emergency responders worked alongside farmers and ranchers to try and combat the fire’s forward momentum.
Determining the total impact on the cattle herd will take months of reporting; however, Gardiner Angus Ranch near Ashland, Kan., estimates they lost 500 head to the flames, as reported in an article by the Wichita Eagle. In an interview with the publication, Greg Gardiner called the fire the worst natural disaster to hit their family’s fifth-generation ranch.
Mark and Eva Gardiner, Greg’s brother and sister-in-law, reportedly lost their home, but were able to save a few possessions. Yet thankfully, no injuries were sustained and most facilities were untouched.
In the weeks and months that follow, recovery efforts will be ongoing for the many producers affected, and immediate needs include hay and feed donations, and monetary support, as communities begin to discover the true extent of the wildfire’s destruction.
Here’s how to contribute to a disaster relief fund in each of the affected states.
The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and the Northeast Colorado Cattlemen’s Association are focusing on the immediate need for hay, feed and fencing supplies; as well as individuals willing to provide trucking for the farmers and ranchers devastated by the fires.
Donations should be taken to CHS Grainland in Haxtun, Colo. A loader and scale are both available, if needed.
For more information about dropping off donations, contact Rick Unrein at 970-520-3565. For more information about how to help, please contact Kent Kokes 970-580-8109; John Michal 970-522-2330; Justin Price 970-580-6315; or Dan Firme 970-520-0949.
Visit the NE Colorado Immediate Fire Relief for Farmers and Ranchers Facebook page to stay up-to-date on recovery efforts.
The Colorado Farm Bureau has also activated its Disaster Relief Fund, where online donations can be made. Go online to contribute and learn more.
Proceeds from specified lots at several auction market and production sales will help the Kansas Livestock Foundation (KLF) assist ranchers affected by recent wildfires across the state.
Cash contributions, either through auctions benefitting KLF or direct donations to the foundation, are tax-deductible. To donate, click here or send checks to KLF, 6031 SW 37th Street, Topeka, KS 66614. Every dollar collected will go to ranchers in affected areas.
The Ashland Community Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, is also accepting donations. Go to www.Ashlandcf.com, bring checks to Stockgrowers State Bank or mail to: Ashland Community Foundation/Wildfire Relief Fund (P.O. Box 276, Ashland, KS 67831). Please note: Wildfire Relief Fund in the memo line.
The Kansas Angus Association has pledged $1,000 to the KLF, and the Kansas Junior Angus Association has also pledged and is raising funds for a special project. If you would like to learn more, please contact Anne Lampe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A relief fund has been established by the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Foundation (OCF) to help Beaver, Ellis, Harper and Woodward County Cattlemen who have been affected by recent wildfires in the area.
If you would like to donate to this relief effort, you can do so by mail or online. Make checks payable to Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Foundation and put “Fire Relief” in the memo line and send to P.O. Box 82395, Oklahoma City, OK 73148. To donate online, visit www.okcattlemen.org.
If you would like to donate hay or trucking services for hay, you can do so by contacting either the Harper County Extension Office at 580-735-2252 or Buffalo Feeders at 580-727-5530 to make arrangements or provide trucking services.
As part of a coordinated response with multiple state agencies and emergency managers, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) has been asked to solicit hay donations from local members.
Two supply points have been established to collect donated hay. Each has been listed below. If you have hay that you can donate and transport to either supply point, please contact the location directly.
Supply Point 1 — 202 West Main, Lipscomb, TX (Contact: J.R. Spragg, Office: 806-862-4601)
Supply Point 2 — 301 Ball Park Drive, Pampa, TX (Contact: Mike Jeffcoat, Office: 806-669-8033)
TSCRA Special Rangers are in the impacted area assessing the damage and assisting TSCRA members. If you need assistance, please contact our offices at 817-332-7064 or fill out this online form.
— Compiled by Jena McRell, Angus Media
ANGUS MEANS BUSINESS. The American Angus Association® is the nation’s largest beef breed organization, serving nearly 25,000 members across the United States, Canada and several other countries. It’s home to an extensive breed registry that grows by nearly 300,000 animals each year. The Association also provides programs and services to farmers, ranchers and others who rely on Angus to produce quality genetics for the beef industry and quality beef for consumers.
For more information about Angus cattle and the American Angus Association, visit www.angus.org.