It took generations to build this cattle ranch

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Chase Hubbard was on a fire truck volunteering to hunt one of the twelve wildfires burning in Washington when he realized his own family’s ranch was on the verge of destruction.

Hubbard, a third generation rancher from Lincoln County, jumped out of the truck and rushed to save what he could, but there was nothing he could do.

“The hay is gone. Our winter pasture is gone. We’re still trying to find 14 (cows),” Hubbard told Q13 News. “It took generations to build it, and it was gone in less than three hours.”

Cattle ranches in eastern Washington state could take years to recover from the wildfires that ravaged the West Coast (Photo credit: Chase Hubbard)

Ranchers and beef producers affected by massive wildfires in eastern Washington face extraordinary losses. And as other ranchers rally to help each other with hay and other immediate needs, the consequences could take years to overcome.

“Once they are able to get through this winter, they will need land to graze their cattle, and it will be very difficult to find,” said Patti Brumbach, executive director of the Washington State Beef Commission. “It’s devastating when your livelihood can be swept away by fire and raging windstorms, and you can’t protect your animals.”

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Brumbach said hay and fencing are among the most important needs in the short term, but in the long term, pastoralists will need to find a place to send their cattle now that their pastures are gone.

The Hubbard ranch alone lost 1,400 tonnes of hay – essentially all of its winter stock – as well as 44 miles of fencing. At a cost of $ 10,000 per mile of fence, you do the math.

Cattle ranches in eastern Washington state devastated by wildfires could take years to recover (Photo credit: Chase Hubbard)

“There’s a lot of hay this year, that’s on the bright side, but there are 30 producers (of cattle) just in this fire. That doesn’t include Okanogan and eastern Oregon,” Hubbard said.

Brumbach said it was too early to say how many cattle were lost in the fires. Since these animals weren’t immediately destined for the market, the damage is unlikely to spill over to consumers, but that could change as producers attempt to pick up the pieces.

“It’s overwhelming. You almost don’t know where to start,” Hubbard said.

“People try to be nice … They say, ‘At least it didn’t affect your house,’ and they’re right. But in the end, if I could have had a choice … house every day . A house is just a place to live … but herding is our way of making a living, and at the moment we don’t really have a way of making a living. scariest. “

Despite the long road ahead, Brumbach said it is not all gloomy – there are thousands of beef producers in this state coming together to help each other.

“People are showing up,” she said. “This part of the story is so special.”

If you would like to help, you can donate through the Washington Cattlemen’s Association.


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