A limited amount of materials are finally available to re-build fences near Chadron that were lost in 2012 wildfires.
According to U.S. Forest Service officials, materials are available for both interior fences owned by the service as well as privately owned fences that are adjacent to Forest Service lands.
The government will not provide any labor, according to the announcement.
For fences privately owned and adjacent to Forest Service lands, requests for materials will be taken from now through Oct. 18 at the Pine Ridge Ranger District, 2½ miles south of Chadron.
Willing, eligible landowner applicants would sign an agreement with the US Forest Service. Materials would be provided at no cost to re-build the fences. Landowners would do the installation and meet Forest Service specifications.
Work will be completed by a mutually agreed deadline. Following a final inspection, the landowner then assumes ownership of the fences, including on-going maintenance, the forest service's announcement said.
Material is also available to rebuild interior fences, which are often required for management of permitted livestock on forest service land.
Again, interior fences must meet specifications and stay in compliance with grazing permits.
There is a limited amount of fencing materials, so not all applicants may get approved, according to the announcement. Forest Service officials will work with landowners and permittees to provide guidance for necessary timber clearing.
More information and applications are available from the Pine Ridge Ranger District. Interested persons may also call the office at 308-432-0300, or visit the website at www.fs.fed.us/r2/nebraska.
First, no help
A year ago, the federal government said it did not have money to replace fences destroyed by wildfires
The fires in the northern Nebraska Panhandle areas burned more than 202,000 acres of private and public lands in Dawes and Sioux counties in Nebraska. according to a report by Nebraska State Sen. Al Davis.
Nearly 2,200 miles of fence lines, valued at about $1,220,000, were burned, resulting in emergency movement and/or sale of cattle, Davis said.
Davis and 11 other state senators sponsored a resolution in the Legislature to urge the U.S. Forest Service to pay a proportional share of replacement costs. The Legislature adopted the resolution on May 31.
The U.S. Forest Service’s stand was that the fence lines were “owned” by the landowners, since the U.S. Forest Service is only required to have “boundary markers.”
“This contradicted earlier stances by the Forest Service that claimed co-ownership of the fences, allowing the service to require certain construction standards,” Davis said.
It is traditional for owners of adjacent lands to share replacement costs of common fences, but the affected private landowners were hard pressed to do that, Davis said. They were already devastated by drought and forced to liquidate nearly 40 percent of their livestock.