Cattlemen and Firefighters Work Together to Ensure Cattle Make it to Winter
Incident: Cascade Creek Wildfire
Cattlemen and Firefighters work together to ensure cattle make it to winter range
Trout Lake, Wash. When the Cascade Creek Wildfire ignited on September 8, cattle from the Kayser Cattle Company were still grazing on the 32,000-acre allotment Neil Kayser and his family use through a grazing permit with the United States Forest Service. Through coordination with the Mt. Adams Ranger District, Neil Kayser and his son Jess had to don protective fire gear and ride into the fire perimeter, driving 20 pair of cattle to safety. No cattle are known to have been lost. Over the past few weeks the Kayser cattle have continued to graze southeast of the fire. Now it is time to round up 500 animals and move them to their winter range.
The Kayser family has been doing this since the early 1900s and each year they look forward to this family affair. "It's bred into us," says Kayser, "the entire family helps out." When asked the youngest age of this year's helpers, Neil and Jess thought about it for a moment and replied, "Four years old, but we have a few between the ages of 7 and 10 that will be on horses."
"Fire greatly affects peoples' lives and we want to accommodate the local needs the best we can while still providing for everyone's safety," said Incident Commander Larry Nickey. "It is the time of year that cattle need to be moved from summer to winter range; we want to ensure this is possible while continuing to meet our incident objectives."
The Kaysers are familiar with fire and its effects on the forest ecosystem. They are working closely with Washington Interagency Incident Management Team 4 to safely access their allotment where the cattle play an important role in forest health. "The cattle reduce light fuels through grazing and will eventually provide high quality beef to the consumer," Kayser said.
Over the next two weeks, the Kayser family will bring the historic "Cow Camp" (pictured below) to life, driving and corralling cattle in a family tradition that is over 100 years old. It may look peaceful now, but in a few days this camp will be a booming operation while the Cascade Creek Wildfire continues to burn just a half mile to the north.
Historic "Cow Camp" before the round up begins - photo Cory Wall, USFS (go to photographs above and see Cow Camp photo)