Emergency Wildfire Relief for Owyhee Ranchers

Media contact: Pamm Juker, ISDA 208-332-8500, pamela.juker@agri.idaho.gov;
Steve Stuebner, 208-484-0295, sstuebner@cableone.net

Emergency relief for ranchers, citizens affected by Idaho Wildfires

BOISE – (Aug. 14, 2015) – The Soda wildfire burning in Owyhee County has consumed more than 265,000 acres in Idaho and Eastern Oregon as of Friday noon. The Lawyer Complex fire in North Idaho is approaching 12,000 acres and counting. Many Idahoans are wondering how they can help ranchers, farmers, landowners and other citizens who have been affected by these and other fast-moving fires.

On Friday, Idaho state and federal agencies and Owyhee County officials pulled together a quick list of helpful resources for people affected by the fires:

The Owyhee Cattlemen’s Association’s web site has information about how to donate hay, fencing, pasture and other donations. Web address is http://www.owyheecattlemen.com/. U.S. Bank has set up an account to receive monetary donations. Checks should be made payable to the Owyhee Cattlemen’s Heritage Foundation. Contributions can be received at any U.S. Bank branch.

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture has a one-page fact sheet on helpful resources available on the ISDA web site: http://www.agri.idaho.gov. Brooke Jacobson, Range Program Specialist for ISDA, can help provide information regarding grazing allotment status, grazing information, and regulations on public lands. Contact Brooke at  brooke.jacobson@agri.idaho.gov or 208-332-8561.

Emergency and Operation Loans – Farm Service Agency – Idaho State Office – 208-378-5650 – See Idaho FSA web site for general information. Questions regarding availability of FSA loans and qualification requirements – http://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/farm-loan-programs/index

Volunteers – Citizens wishing to volunteer their time or resources should contact their county emergency manager or the American Red Cross of Greater Idaho who assist in tracking and assigning volunteers. Call 208-947-4357. Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) http://idavoad.org.

Veterinarians – Local veterinarians can be contacted directly or through the Idaho Veterinary Medical Association (IVMA) 208-922-9431 http://ivma.org/site/veterinarians/member-clinics/

The Natural Resources Conservation Service is ready to help ranchers and farmers who have been affected by the Soda fire and other wildfires in the state. Here is a statement from State Conservationist Curtis Elke:

“NRCS is planning to assist with all the fire damages occurring within Idaho.  Once the fires are contained, my staff and I personally plan to visit the site and assess the damages and obtain an inventory need with the ranchers and farmers,” Elke said.

“The first step would be to develop a 9-step conservation plan of action on how we plan to implement conservations needs on the properties. Then we will be able to know how we will be able to assist with possible livestock tanks, cross fences, preferred grazing, and range seed planting — to mention some conservation practices we are certain will be affected by this fire devastation we are currently facing.”

Elk said NRCS expects to be able to use FY 2016 funds under EQIP to assist landowners affected by the fires. Sage Grouse Initiative funds also may be available for restoring habitat after the fires.

Producers who have incurred fire damages should contact their local NRCS office for assistance.

Cover Crop Pasture Exchange – Contact the Idaho Cattle Association, 208-343-1615. Web: Idahocattle.org

Wildfire information: Go to http://inciweb.nwcg.gov.

Road Conditions/Closures
http://511.idaho.gov/ or call 1-888-432-7623

State officials cautioned the general public to watch out for scam artists during this difficult time. Make sure the organizations that may be soliciting funds to help fire victims are legitimate.

Many thanks to the Owyhee Cattlemen’s Association, ISDA, FSA, NRCS, Idaho Soil & Water Conservation Commission, Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission and our other project partners for sharing this information.