Ranchers help BLM fight Cherry Road Fire

More than 31,000 acres have burned.

JORDAN VALLEY, OREGON - While the growth of the Cherry Road Fire near the Idaho-Oregon border has slowed down, ranchers in the area are still dealing with the aftermath and will continue to do so for years to come. 

"The aftermath is kind of heartfelt you don't like to see it burn, I don't like to talk about it," said rancher Mark Mackenzie. "It's not the monetary part it's your whole life has been here and then poof. Then it poofs again."

More than 31,000 acres of land has been scorched, leaving ranchers like Mark Mackenzie to start at square one.

"Well it's second time in three years that this particular area has burned, so it's a real financial hardship on us to replace that feed that we use," he said.

Mackenzie estimates the Cherry Road Fire will directly affect 400 of his 900 mother cows, and will cost him around $100,000. That number very easily could've been higher if it weren't for the efforts of the Bureau of Land Management and the Jordan Valley Rangeland Fire Prevention Association (RFPA) - a group of local ranchers.

"It was already pushing the road so we immediately got tagged in with the BLM, we had a contact up there we got with and we started burning line out," said Clint Fillmore with RFPA. "The fuel load is overwhelming in there so when they take off, in the matter of 24 hours it was 30,000 acres."

The association started back in 2006. Fast forward 10 years and they have new equipment, more members, and a stronger relationship with BLM firefighters.

"They come and help us when we have a fire and we return the favor that's kind of how the association works with us," said Silas Skinner, a member of the RFPA. "You need the cooperation and that's something that we've taken time to build and it's to where they trust us and we trust them, but it's taken a lot of years to get to where we are now."

While some members of the RFPA and the BLM fought the flames, others moved cows in the area out of harm's way.

"There were about 300 head on top of the ridge in a spring/summer allotment that had to be moved out of the way," said Mackenzie. "It severely impacted that 300 but the step down is there's probably about 1,000 head overall affected by this one fire."

Although the ranchers say they have issues with the bureau's land management policies, they can't stress enough how happy they are with the relationship they have formed with the BLM firefighters. 

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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