Benefit held for ranchers who lost livelihood in wildfires

Benefit held for ranchers who lost livelihood in wildfires

29 September 2013

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USA — ELMORE COUNTY — An August lightning storm started some of the summer’s largest wildfires in Idaho. And along with the fires, the flames moved on to claim many homes, buildings, and ranches.

On Saturday, dozens of people gathered to benefit those who suffered losses by the fires. The Rancher Relief Fund raised money for ranchers like Charlie Lyons.

“I’ve never been to my own fundraiser,” said Lyons. “It’s kind of like going to your own funeral a little bit.”

Lyons lost 60 head of cattle and about 40,000 acres of grazing land.

“It’s going to have a huge impact next year because there’s really nowhere for us to go,” said Lyons. “So most of us will probably have to sell down, sell our herds down, what’s left of them, and go from there.”

Hailey Russ, the daughter of a rancher, and Robin Hawks, who own the Little Camas Inn, decided to help out by putting together the benefit.

“All of the ranchers around here have supported us from day one,” said Hawks, “And so when the fires all broke out, it was the least that we could do.”

They had live and silent auctions, cowboy poetry, food, drinks and live music. One band even came all the way from Spain. Money raised went to 13 ranches who lost so much this summer.

Hailey Russ’ father is one of the ranchers the benefit is also for.

“To watch some of these guys that are the strongest, toughest men I know get knocked to their knees, it was a little rough,” said Russ. “It turned in from one day you’re perfectly fine and the next day everything’s gone and you have to come up with thousands of dollars to try and feed your cattle.”

The money raised will help these ranchers on the long recovery. Lyons hopes the lesson learned will protect their land in the future.

“I think what a lot of us would like to do is make sure it didn’t happen again,” he said. “That’s what our hope is.”

If you would like to help out, go to any Pioneer Federal Credit Union and ask to give to the Rancher Relief Fund.

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