Image provided by: University of Oregon Libraries; Eugene, OR
About Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current | View Entire Issue (Nov. 24, 2017)
November 24, 2017
Ranchers take stock of rangeland, forage damage from fires
By TIM HEARDEN
OROVILLE, Calif. — Rancher
Kurt Albrecht was away at a meet-
ing when a neighbor called to tell
him of the wildfire that was rapidly
approaching his property.
He and his son drove home
from nearby Orland, Calif., and by
the time they got to Oroville, they
could see the Cherokee Fire on the
top of Table Mountain overlooking
“It was a huge, wide expanse,”
Albrecht said of the blaze that
started Oct. 8 and charred 8,417
acres, mostly rangeland. “It
was many miles wide and head-
ed in our direction, so we raced
The two ran three trailer loads
of goats and sheep off their ranch
and let their cows stay in a sec-
tion of irrigated pasture behind a
fire break. The fire swept through
their property, taking out a hay
barn and three employee houses
and devastating the pasture they
were using as winter feed for the
“When we came back for our
third load, the fire had come off the
top of the table and gotten into a
canyon behind our place that hasn’t
burned since the ’20s,” Albrecht
said. “We pulled out for the last
time, and it had already gotten into
the barns and was headed between
our two larger houses.”
Tim Hearden/Capital Press
Colleen Cecil, manager of the Butte County, Calif., Farm Bureau, checks photos
of damage to farmland from recent fires in the area. She said mostly rangeland
was burned by the fires, although a few structures were lost.
Albrecht is one of numerous
ranchers who are still taking stock
of their feed and other losses af-
ter wind-driven wildfires swept
through parts of Northern Califor-
nia in October, killing at least 43
people and destroying 8,900 hous-
es and other buildings.
State officials estimate the over-
all insured losses at $3.3 billion so
far, among the highest of any U.S.
wildfire in recent decades, accord-
ing to The Associated Press. While
the fires spared most cattle, they’ve
forced ranchers to supplement feed
to their livestock while their burned
pastures recover, which could take
a couple of years.
While the world was focused
on fires in the iconic wine country,
four blazes were scorching the roll-
ing hills and mountains of Butte,
Yuba and Nevada counties, burn-
ing 17,037 acres and destroying or
damaging 414 buildings, according
to the state Department of Forestry
and Fire Protection.
Much of that ground is winter
range, and the fires also caused hay
loss, said Colleen Cecil, manager
of the Butte County Farm Bureau.
“The biggest loss will be any
feed that was there,” Cecil said.
“The silver lining from a fire burn-
ing property is that you can get rid
of weeds. But those are decisions
you’d like to make.”
A few ranches, including Table
Mountain Ranch in Oroville, did
suffer “significant devastation,”
The fires were the latest event
to rattle the Oroville area after the
Oroville Dam’s near failure in Feb-
ruary led to the evacuation of about
188,000 area residents and threat-
ened a large portion of the Eastern
Sacramento Valley’s $1.5 billion
“I don’t know what (else) God
has in store for us,” Cecil said.
Albrecht’s Chaffin Orchards just
north of Oroville produces olives
and citrus and stone fruit as well as
livestock. The fire stayed out of the
orchards and spared the two family
residences, but Albrecht will have
to replace housing for four of his
seven permanent employees.
Two of the employee houses
were built of concrete blocks with
metal roofs, but the fire outside
was so hot that it caused things
inside to catch fire, and the homes
“burned from the inside out,” Al-
“These guys have been in these
homes for 30 years,” he said.
“They’re long-term employees
with families. We’re going to have
to figure out other accommoda-
tions for them. ... It’s not a cheap
Several federal programs are
available to help ranchers im-
pacted by wildfires. They include
the Livestock Indemnity Program
for animal losses, the Noninsured
Crop Disaster Assistance Program
for forage and the Emergency Con-
servation Program for fence and
other infrastructure repairs.
For information on the pro-
grams, contact a local Farm Ser-
vice Agency office or visit www.
By Mary Stewart
OSU Extension Service
All-Terrain Vehicles, ATVs, are fun to ride and useful for work, but they
can also be dangerous if the operator doesn’t operate the ATV safely.
Youth are learning the right way to ride safely through the Oregon ATV
Safety Youth Rider Endorsement Program (OASYREP).
According to Dr. David White, Oregon 4-H Youth Development Specialist
who oversees the state’s outdoor education and recreation program,
OASYREP provides youth ages 6-15 with the hands-on training,
evaluation, and endorsement they need to ride safely and legally on public
Youth under the age of 16 who want to ride ATVs on Oregon’s public
lands, must pass an Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) on-
line ATV Safety course.
Isabel and Boden Sayer,
Brownsville, have taken the
Oregon ATV Safety Youth
Rider Endorsement Program.
Youth have to pass equipment
evaluation, mental riding exercises,
pre-riding exercises and physical
Once completed, youth are then required to pass a hands-on training and
evaluation to receive an endorsement. The 4-H program is one of a few
organizations that provides both training and evaluation. For a complete list
of locations and dates, visit http://oregonatvsafety.com/. A fee is charged
for the course.
Once both the course and evaluation are completed, the youth will receive a
card they should keep with them when they ride on public lands.
The physical riding
youth to successfully
pass numerous tasks
like starting and
“The training and evaluation sharpens and measures the physical and
mental readiness of the youth,” said Robin Galloway, a 4-H Youth
Development Faculty and certified ATV instructor. “Looking ahead, quick
thinking and action prevents a rider from running into an oncoming bicycle
or horse, or keeps them from landing in the ditch,” added Galloway.
During the evaluation, an instructor will check the fit of the rider to the
vehicle, and ask riders to turn the vehicle on and off before sending them
through a course of cones that tests their ability to make quick stops, turn,
weave and handle obstacles.
Tenille Sayer, Sayer Farms – Brownsville, is a 4-H volunteer who has seen
positive results from the ATV safety program through experiences with her
two children – Isabel, 13 and Boden, 10. Sayer endorses the program
because it “eliminates those kids who are just put on a quad and taken out
to public lands to ride.”
ATV instruction at
Cathy Chrenka are
the state. They are
4-H volunteers and
The training teaches youth to be self-sufficient. They learn the parts of the
vehicle and simple maintenance such as changing the oil and spark plugs.
“They learn to carry a tool kit so they don’t get stuck somewhere,” said
Sayer. “We have hills on our farm and they need to go up and down the
hills and know how their quad will react to the hill and how to position
ATVs include 4-wheelers and side-by-sides. Three-wheelers are not
considered safe to use.
For more information on ATV Safety and other outdoor programs, visit: