Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Oct. 20, 2020

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Skagit ranchers helping farms affected by wildfires


MOUNT VERNON — Several local ranchers are gathering donations of hay and feed for farms impacted by wildfires in Eastern Washington.

As a former wildland firefighter of 30 years, Skagit County rancher Jim Hinton said he has seen firsthand the devastation wildfires cause to farms and livestock.

“It burns up their winter pasture, burns up their haystacks they have for winter feed, and burns up their barns and houses,” he said. “Wildfires (are) nasty stuff.”

Hinton is working with the Skagit County Cattlemen’s Association to collect donations of hay and haylage to send to Eastern Washington farms to feed animals. Several in Skagit County have made large donations and more are needed, he said.

“They just need a lot of help out there, they still don’t know the numbers of lost animals,” said Cindy Kleinhuizen, president of the Skagit County Cattlemen’s Association and owner of Double O Ranch in Concrete.

Kleinhuizen and Hinton are coordinating donations with the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, which is based in Ellensburg.

Also needed are volunteers with large trucks to transport the feed across the mountains, Hinton said.

Ashley House, executive vice president of the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, said farmers in Eastern Washington counties are working to assess damage from the wildfires. Displaced livestock are being housed at sites such as the Okanogan County Fairgrounds.

“Anybody that is willing to donate hay — we definitely have a need and a place for that to go,” she said.

House said donations of hay will be needed to feed animals through December.

The Washington Cattlemen’s Association is also collecting monetary donations for its wildfire relief fund. Donations can be made at washingtoncattlemen.org.

Those wishing to donate hay or feed can call Jim Hinton at 360-391-9695, or the Washington Cattlemen’s Association at 509-925-9871.