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Province kicks in $6.2M for fencing destroyed by fires

Doug Donaldson
Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson

Victoria has committed $6.2 million to support the replacement of livestock fencing and Crown range infrastructure that has been destroyed in the wildfires.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has reached an agreement in partnership with the BC Cattlemen’s Association to support the rebuilding of livestock fencing adjacent to provincial highways. The ministry will provide $2.2 million in funding for the repair and replacement of livestock fences adjacent to provincial highways destroyed by the wildfires. This is in addition to $2 million for the existing 2017-18 Provincial Livestock Fencing Program.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development will contribute $4 million toward the repair and replacement of Crown range infrastructure. This includes fences that are not along highways, cattle-handling facilities, watering facilities, cabins and other range infrastructure damaged or destroyed due to fire.

“During this terrible wildfire season, farmers and ranchers have been impacted significantly, through the loss of livestock fences,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena, in a press release. “We recognized this, and we are therefore acting quickly to remedy it, by supporting the rebuilding of livestock fencing in areas that have been impacted by the fires.”

“Ranching is an important economic contributor in the areas that have been adversely affected by wildfires,” said Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Minister Doug Donaldson. “In addition to the funding, ministry staff will be working closely with range tenure holders on alternate grazing areas for their cattle.”

An estimated 100 kilometres of fencing along provincial highways has already been damaged or destroyed. More is expected as fires continue to burn. Assessment of damaged fencing has been completed on Highway 97, Highway 5A, Highway 1 and Highway 20. Livestock fencing boosts safety for motorists by helping to keep cattle and other livestock from roaming onto highways and potentially causing crashes.

“B.C. ranchers are known for being stewards of the land and an economic driver in many of our communities, and the B.C. government is going to be there to help them recover and return to their operations,” said Agriculture Minister Lana Popham. “This funding will help repair key cattle-related infrastructure on the range and rebuild valuable fencing along transportation routes that will help keep cattle and commuters safe.”

The BC Cattlemen’s Association will co-ordinate assessment and reconstruction of highway fences impacted by the wildfires, using an established list of pre-qualified fencing contractors who are prepared to respond and begin construction on the fencing. Work will begin immediately and continue throughout the fall.

“With the unprecedented fire situation we currently have in B.C., we have seen massive damage to much of our industry’s critical infrastructure that keeps our ranchers’ livestock contained,” said Kevin Boon, general manager, BC Cattlemen’s Association. “It is essential that we get the fences on the highways replaced as soon as possible. The extra funding and partnership between BC Cattlemen’s Association and the provincial government will help ensure the safety of all British Columbians who travel these corridors.”

Motorists are advised that until the fencing has been replaced, some livestock have moved out of previously enclosed areas and may potentially wander on or near highways. Drivers are reminded to be mindful of this and to drive with caution.

Reports of loose or wandering livestock should be made to the Ministry of Agriculture at 250 561-3514.

For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, go to: http://www.bcwildfire.ca

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