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David Sparks Ph.d Soda Fire Follow-Up
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: May 10, 2017

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“The fire would race up one spot and the cows would move out of the way and then they moved over into the black and the other parts would burn behind them. When the fire was raging and going everywhere, then it burned everything.” That’s Owyhee County rancher Ted Blackstock back in August, 2015. The Soda Fire was just beginning and before it was done, 280,000 acres of high desert, used mostly for livestock grazing, was burned off. Rehab was soon underway and by the spring of 2016, new vegetation brought the beautiful landscape back to life. That was good news to cow men who rely greatly on the desert grass lost to fire. Now, 20 months later… “We are still off the BLM ground. We used a little bit of our private ground last fall and the grass had come back really well. We are really tickled with it, we just used part of the grass, maybe 25%, and this year we will use it quite a bit more. With BLM, hopefully with the grass recovering very nicely and we are hoping to go out after 1 August.” Blackstock has been a traveling cowboy since the fire and is looking forward to coming home. “I've got cows 100 miles south and 100 miles north. That's a long ways in between. We are trying to get back to our home country again.” Good cattle markets prior to the 2015 fire have helped the Blackstock’s pay the extra bills during the recovery. But he is still trying to build the herd back to pre-fire numbers.

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