Monday, June 12, 2017

How one Great Plains town recovered from wildfire

Communities are recovering from the wildfires that burned hundreds of thousands of acres in the southern Great Plains in early March. Russ Quinn of DTN/The Progressive Farmer visited Ashland, Kansas, which was near the heart of the conflagration.

"While fire didn't burn the town itself, it did burn in every direction around the town," Quinn reports. "People lost homes, buildings, livestock and miles of fences. Within days, calls came from people who wanted to donate supplies. Kendal Kay, president of Stockman's Bank in Ashland and the town's mayor, said a meeting was held quickly and a task force of 18 community members was formed to handle the aftermath of the fires."

The town benefited from a Kansas Livestock Association fund "set up previously to help people affected by other fires in the state," Quinn writes. "The Stockman's Bank contributed the first $25,000, Kay said. In addition, the town of Ashland already had the Ashland Community Foundation in place for 20 years to help raise money for different projects. After this year's fires, the foundation took in money donated from all across the nation, he said."

The fires occurred just as a grazing season was about to begin, so there was a big need for hay, and that was "the item many other ranchers and farmers could donate easiest, Kay said." Donations to the region came from as far away as Kentucky. In Ashland, "We had 50 loads of hay in one day a couple times," Kay said.

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