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After Wildfire In Southeast Montana Torches Grazing Land, Group Seeks Hay Donation

Tiffany Davenport
Cattle impacted by the Richard Spring fire burning in ranching communities in Southeast Montana. Submitted by Tiffany Davenport.

The Richard Spring Fire burning in ranching communities in Southeast Montana has torched cattle grazing pastures and hay stacks. A group of women from Rosebud County are organizing efforts to find hay and raise funds for ranchers impacted by the blaze.

According to InciWeb, the Richard Spring fire has burned around 170,000 acres and is putting agricultural grasslands at risk. It’s currently 65 percent contained.

Tamara Robertson is a member of the Rosebud County Cattlewomen, a nonprofit organization assisting ranchers.

“A large portion of what’s been burned so far is grazing land that our ranchers have been struggling already to kind of hold onto this summer. It’s been plagued with grasshoppers and drought,” Robertson says.

Hay is hard to come by in Montana during a drought year. Since the cattle women made a flyer seeking hay donations and posted it to Facebook late last week, they’ve heard from farmers and ranchers in Kentucky and one in Ohio who donated 2,000 tons of hay. But, they haven’t yet raised enough funds to cover transportation costs.

“The difficult part right now is the trucking. They have it available for us if we can come and get it, but at the moment the trucking costs and stuff are pretty high,” Robertson says.

Robertson hopes that bringing in more hay will leave fewer ranchers with the difficult decision of reducing herds. She says one ranching family impacted by the Richard Spring fire has already taken their entire herd to market.

Funds raised by the Rosebud County Cattlewomen will also go towards repairing fences that had to be cut down during the fire. For information on how to donate visit the Rosebud County Cattlewomen’s Facebook page.

Olivia Weitz covers Bozeman and surrounding communities in Southwest Montana for Yellowstone Public Radio. She has reported for Northwest News Network and Boise State Public Radio and previously worked at a daily print newspaper. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom Story Workshop.