In response to the devastating fires occurring in Southeast Oregon, the Oregon Cattlemen's Association has set up a fire victim's relief fund as a part of the Oregon Cattlemen's Stewardship Fund. Charitable donations of cash or in-kind (including hay and supplies), are now being accepted online, via phone or in person at the OCA office. Ranchers are also seeking reloaction options for cattle that are threatened by the fires.
OCA RESTOR Beef Producer Q&A
Tell us about RESTOR – what is it and what is the focus?
In response to the devastating wildfires across our great state, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) President Curtis Martin established RESTOR, a task force within OCA dedicated to gathering information from impacted livestock communities, providing assistance and education, building understanding and awareness, and facilitating improvements concerning current and future wildfires in the state.
How is OCA involved with RESTOR?
RESTOR is a special initiative created by the OCA which works with Oregon’s impacted livestock communities and public partners in solution focused discussions. Currently RESTOR is working to frame solutions for:
- Restoration seeding
- Post-fire livestock management
- Enhancing communications between firefighters and communities.
Who else is a part of RESTOR – what other groups are represented?
The RESTOR task force is made up of a diverse team of individuals representing livestock producers directly impacted by wildfire, leaders from federal land management agencies, a rangeland scientist, and regional advisor to the Governor.
Members of the team include Colby Marshall, a former member of Rep. Greg Walden’s DC staff and involved in his families livestock operation in Harney County; Bob Skinner, former OCA President and livestock producer from Malheur County; Kay Teisl, Executive Director of the OCA; Jeff Rose, Associate District Manager of the Bureau of Land Management in Burns; Chad Karges, Deputy Manager of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge; Tony Svejcar, Rangeland Scientist and Research Leader at the Agricultural Research Service in Burns; Scott Fairley, Governor Kitzhaber Eastern Oregon Economic Coordinator.
Very quickly RESTOR held community meetings in Jordan Valley and Frenchglen – what did RESTOR learn from these meetings:
The sessions in the Jordan Valley and Frenchglen attracted more than 100 affected people and were the first steps taken by the task force to advance the mission of directing assistance to fire-affected individuals, their families, and important business, along with facilitating information to help improve responses to wildfires in the future. Several themes regarding potential improvements emerged in both sessions, including:
- Importance of extinguishing rangeland fires quickly as to not lose plant cover which has dramatic impacts on livestock operations and wildlife such as sage grouse. The most important management strategy is to prevent remaining large tracks of high desert habitat from catastrophically burning.
- Providing additional information, greater flexibility, and rapid response to livestock producers regarding access to federal lands in fire-affected areas as to enable them to make important short and long-term business decisions.
- Recognizing that not all areas will require restoration and the type of restoration will vary across the landscape based on site specific conditions.
- Post fire monitoring needs to include additional peer reviewed research regarding the amount of time required before rangeland can be used again for grazing by livestock producers. Monitoring can then be used to better inform future decisions.
- The need for additional equipment and training directed towards livestock communities who could provide greater assistance and coordination with government emergency services during rangeland fire responses.
- The opportunity to learn from these events and work in partnership with a broad range of stakeholders to develop innovative solutions which could be used to respond to future wildfires.
How will RESTOR impact OCA's public policy agenda?
Think of RESTOR is like a Presidential commission - RESTOR was formed to gathering information from impacted livestock communities, providing assistance and education, build an understanding and awareness, and facilitating improvements concerning current and future wildfires in the state. In this effort they are working to develop information which will be provided to OCA that the association can use to inform any modification, updates or changes to its current policy on wildfire.
What is the goal or outcome for RESTOR?
The goal of RESTOR is to provide information that frames the wildfire response and rehabilitation discussion going forward that helps creates management flexibility for both private and government land managers. This diverse task force understands that not every piece of fire-affected ground was previously managed the same, did not have the same type of plant communities, did not burn the same, and there are numerous other factors to consider when conducting future planning across a landscape.
In order to meet this goal, OCA, assembled a group from within and outside the OCA, who can act as conduits into other groups, and who can work productively together to focus attention on the challenges and opportunities wildfire in Oregon present.
What has been the benefit of OCA's involvement with RESTOR?
RESTOR has started a dialogue to bring together a wide group of stakeholders for conversations to find solutions that can enable all interests to respond more efficiently, effectively, and positively to future wildfires. OCA has benefited from this effort through enhanced understanding of livestock issues by all levels of government and increased partnership opportunities in future collaborative land management planning. .
How does RESTOR work with OCA's efforts in fire victims relief?
RESTOR actively promotes the Oregon Cattlemen’s Stewardship Fund’s “Fire Victims Relief Fund” to help raise awareness and assistance for those affected by wildfire. RESTOR also helped the OCA to organize emergency hay delivery to seven fire affected ranches in southeast Oregon which resulted in the delivery of 500 tons of hay hauled on 17 donated trucks. Donations from the trucking community for this one day effort exceed $15,000, 204 hours of service, and cover 5150 miles.