US Ranchers Blame Government for Catastrophic Wildfires

US - A spate of wildfires engulfing hundreds of thousands of rangeland acres is the government's fault, says the US cattle industry's leading body.
calendar icon 20 August 2015
clock icon 2 minute read

The fires, which have scorched 1.1 million acres from the Canadian border down to California this week, have been caused by “gross negligence and mismanagement” from authorities, ranchers say.

In a joint letter to the government, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and Public Lands Council underlined the importance of “proper natural resource management”.

They said the “massive” wildfires, which have required army personnel attention for the first time since 2006, have cost ranchers and put them in danger.

Any recovery will take decades, whether it be to forage stocks, infrastructure or valuable wildlife habitat, said PLC President, Brenda Richards.

Of the more notable fires, the Soda Wildfire has torn across almost 300,000 acres of rangeland across the Oregon/Idaho border.

American media has reported a total of around 100 separate fires that have led to over 1,000 residents being evacuated.

Fires are heavily concentrated in the North West, with the Washington Post noting the 35 blazes shared between Oregon and western Montana.

The paper said: “In these states and in the Pacific Northwest, fires are being started by thunderstorms that are delivering lightning strikes without much rain.”

But this could have been avoided if federal agencies were reined in, said NCBA President Philip Ellis.

He said: “We have seen more red tape and regulation than ever before, and our natural resources are paying the heavy price.”

Rather than retroactively spending money on controlling fires, he encouraged officials to invest in preventing wildfires.

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