The firefighting efforts aren’t over yet in Kansas and Oklahoma, but the outpouring of support for ranchers affected by the Anderson Creek Fire already has begun.
As of April 1, the Anderson Creek Fire is at 95% containment overall for the 367,630 acres that have burned. The fire began on March 22 in Oklahoma and spread north into Kansas. According to the Oklahoma Forestry Service, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Within the agriculture community, though, the effort is now on helping those who were impacted by the wildfire. Farmers and ranchers across the country have come to the aid of affected ranchers both by donating money and delivering an assortment of agriculture supplies.
On Thursday, at the Pratt Livestock sale, a heifer was auctioned 76 times for $92,935 to raise funds for fire relief efforts. The heifer was donated by David Clawson and Clawson Ranch Partnership, and the Kansas Livestock Foundation (KLF) will distribute the money. The KLF is the charitable arm of KLA.
Bids came from within the auction barn, online and over the phone. There were plenty of big donors to the cause, but even local cowboys dropped off bids anonymously to donate, according to Bob Wilkey, office manager at Pratt Livestock. Additional donations were taken after the sale, and Wilkey says he expects more funds to come in for the fire relief effort.
“We were just a host, but we were glad to do it for them,” Wilkey says. “I know the people down there are going to appreciate it.”
Earlier in the week, KW Cattle Company of Fort Scott, Kansas, offered a bull at their annual production sale, with proceeds going towards KLF. The Angus bull--Lot 21 of the sale--sold for $7,000.
Excluding the generous donations from these two recent cattle sales, KLF has generated more than $58,000 for fire aid as of March 31.
The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association has been hosting a similar fire relief donation program through its charitable arm, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Foundation (OCF). OCF had received $13,000 in donations by April 1, with funding coming from as far away as Arizona and California.
“Checks just keep coming in. Everybody is being really gracious and generous,” says Jeff Jaronek, OCF coordinator.
Fire relief funds from both KLF and OCF are going directly to cattle producers to help them with post-fire essentials like fencing pastures and feeding cattle.
In addition to the monetary donations, local groups have also been transporting goods to the fire-damaged ranches. These volunteers been hauling feed, milk replacer, T-post and wire, in an effort to assist cattle producers who dealing with the widespread damage of the Anderson Creek Fire.
Convoys of hay have come from across both Oklahoma and Kansas, along with deliveries from Nebraska. Rancher Meghan Anderson shared her experience hauling hay from south-central Nebraska to the scored pastures of Barber County, Kansas, Anderson and several other ranchers hauled three loads of hay estimated to cost between $2,000 to $3,000 each.
“Even though the fire itself didn’t make huge national headlines, my hope is the generosity of the American farmer and rancher is shared so much it reaches the communities of urban America. This is what the aftermath of a natural disaster is all about--people helping complete strangers,” Anderson writes.
Here are some posts we’ve found from social media of people in agriculture helping their fellow farmers and ranchers:
My dad and mom headed south to the wildfire area to deliver wire and posts! They will be delivering 1000 steel posts and 69 rolls of barbed wire. Thanks so much for everyone that donated!
Posted by Jessi Loiseau Armstrong on Wednesday, March 30, 2016
A donated heifer was sold over and over again Thursday at Pratt Livestock, raising about $90,000 to help ranchers recover from a devastating wildfire. We'll have more in Saturday's Tribune.
Posted by The Pratt Tribune on Friday, April 1, 2016
You can help by sending a monetary donation to either the KLF or OCF. For more information on where to donate, click here.
Kansas Farm Bureau has also started a program to coordinate the donation of fencing supplies and labor. If you are interested in helping, visit this website or contact Jennifer Theurer in Comanche County at (620) 440-9059 or Zel Polf in Barber County at (620) 886-3316.