50,000 ‘ready-to-eat’ meals for cattle roll out on 16 semis
By Randy Parks
On Wednesday, Aug. 15, the early morning sunshine glinted off the 16 hay trucks parked on North Broadway, loaded with nearly 500 tons of donated hay to be delivered to eight fire-affected ranchers in the Frenchglen and Jordan Valley areas.
The so-called “canyon of hay” was the result of a partnership between the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association’s (OCA) RESTOR Task Force and generous individuals and businesses.
At a press conference before the convoy rolled out of town, RESTOR member Colby Marshall thanked all those involved in the effort to get the hay to those in need. He pointed out that the truck drivers’ donation exceeded $15,000 in resources and 204 hours of service and covered more than 5,100 miles. “The hay on these trucks will provide 50,000 ready-to-eat meals for the livestock,” Marshall said.
Harney County Judge Steve Grasty pointed out that the convoy was a true group effort because it not only involved Harney County residents, but hay from Grant County and trucks from Baker County going to Malheur and Harney counties, as well.
Harney County rancher Gary Miller spoke about the Miller Homestead Fire and how quick it spread after the initial attack. “There was so much fuel there was no way to keep up,” Miller said. He added that on one 50,000-acre allotment, there wasn’t even 10 acres of unburned land and they were finding cattle 20 miles from their home looking for something to eat. “There’s been a lot of emotions, neighbors helping neighbors,” Miller said. “Then Colby called about this and it’s been a great effort. I want to say thanks to everyone and the agencies involved.”
While the hay will provide immediate relief for some, the task force, agencies and others are working on the long-term solution, including re-seeding in the burned areas.
A representative from Governor John Kitzhaber’s office attended the press conference, as did staff from Senator Jeff Merkley’s office.
Once the conference was concluded, the drivers climbed into their rigs and rolled out of town on their mission, cheered on by the crowd.