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Help available for landowners impacted by wildfires

Several state and federal agencies can help ranchers and other landowners.

Capital Press

Published on October 13, 2018 5:04PM

State and federal agencies are offering help to those farmers and ranchers impacted by wildfires.

Bureau of Land Management

State and federal agencies are offering help to those farmers and ranchers impacted by wildfires.

The Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission says it and other land agencies are available to assist landowners impacted by wildfire. The commission, in its October newsletter and a news release, listed various agencies and programs providing financial or technical help.

Several agencies are working on finding resources available to address issues such as finding vacant range for livestock, rebuilding fencing, re-seeding burned lands, and assisting landowners in applying for compensation for lost property and livestock, the state Soil and Water Conservation Commission said in the release, issued in cooperation with the Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Property owners also can get help in applying for funds to enhance wildlife habitat.

Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission Administrator Teri Murrison said that as a partner agency working with landowners, the commission understands some people may not know about the range of services available. “But people will be glad to know that there is extensive help available,” she said. “You just have to apply to the right agency.”

Restoring and rehabilitating private land after a fire can turn into an opportunity, particularly for rangeland health, said Charles Sandford, a fish and wildlife biologist with U.S. Fish and Wildlife in Twin Falls.

“Sometimes it is an awesome opportunity to reset the clock and get more of the desired vegetation to come in after a fire,” he said. “A blank slate can be a good thing. We try to steer folks toward a balance of doing things to benefit wildlife and the private landowner.”

The state Soil and Water Conservation Commission said agencies and programs of possible interest to landowners include:

USDA Farm Service Agency: Apply for funds for exterior fencing; loss of livestock burned or injured in a fire; restoring range; restoring water lines and irrigation systems; emergency water supplies. FSA may be able to help in getting permission to graze Conservation Reserve Program lands. Information: 208-378-5650 or https://www.fsa.usda.gov/state-offices/Idaho/index.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service: Apply for cost-share assistance for interior fencing, cross fencing, water developments, seed and vegetation planting. Information: 208-378-5700 or https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/id/home/

Soil and water conservation districts: Assistance in finding farmers or ranchers with surplus cover crops available to rent for grazing.

Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission: Low-interest loan program could provide funds for rebuilding fence and watering systems; replanting perennial grass species, shrubs and trees; or planting quickly growing annual grass species for erosion control. Contact Terry Hoebelheinrich to apply: 208-332-1793 or terry.hoebelheinrich@swc.idaho.gov.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management: Assistance in finding surplus rangeland resources for ranchers who were burned out of existing grazing allotments. BLM has a forage reserve in the Burley area and a reserve under development in the Big Desert Sheep Allotment north of American Falls. Information is available from the Burley office at 208-677-6600 or the Idaho Falls office at 208-524-7500.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Assistance with enhancing fish and wildlife habitat on private lands. Technical assistance is available from wildlife biologists Matt Bringhurst in Pocatello, 208-241-1833, Josh White in Boise at 208-378-5625, and Sandford at 208-736-2387. General information: https://www.fws.gov/idaho/promo.cfm?id=177175802. Jason Pyron is sage grouse program coordinator in Boise: 208-685-6958.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game: Apply for assistance through Habitat Improvement Program. Information: 208-334-3700 or https://idfg.idaho.gov/conservation/habitat/hip.

Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation: Apply for project to enhance sage grouse habitat on private lands through Sage Grouse Action Team. Contact Josh Uriarte at 208-332-1556 or joshua.uriarte@osc.idaho.gov.


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