WEISER—The Massive Woodhead Fire burning Northwest of Council and the Cambridge area has burned more than 100-thousand acres, its been burning since Labor Day weekend and still burning.
“And so there’s high wind,” said rancher Cody Chandler that has grazing allotments near the fire-lines. The fire forced Rancher Cody Chandler to move cattle off their range allotments:
“And it’s moved very fast then it started to turn near Cambridge and a lot of houses, so local firefighters had to get there to save structures and they did an excellent job of saving people's houses and their property. From there the fire turned and went up on the mountain and so it started on that left side and moved up which are all neighbors of mine who were devastated. They burned all the fall feed that they would have for even next year.”
And the big issue is not only losing summer range to fire, and trying to get cattle out before the flames.
“It took a couple of days for it to come over the top, to where our allotments are,” said Chandler. “And so by then, I was lucky I did have time to start moving cattle and getting them out of the way. The issue is that in heavily wooded areas, there’s a lot of timber, and cattle are supposed to be there and don’t want to come out very bad.”
And that leads to a very stressful week:
“We basically made a plan that we’re going to be up there and pay attention and see where the fire every day. We'll try and keep moving ahead, lucky for us the weather helped. But also when it reached onto some of our allotments, they’d done a lot of logging and thinning along with the grazing up there all summer so the fire slowed down a lot. So it gave us time to just kind of make an assessment every day of where things were and just keep the cattle ahead of the fire. For the most part, our cattle have been fairly safe, I know that, at this point. I won’t know for sure till late this fall when we gather everything and get everything home for the winter," said Chandler.
Chandler says he’s a believer in thinning forests with logging and grazing, he says his losses could have been worse and hopes forest managers are paying attention.