In the wake of the worst wildfire season in Arizona history, ranching families are struggling to save their homes and livelihoods.
The Arizona Cattle Growers Association has established the Great Arizona Bale-Out Fund to raise money to help. Seed money of $5,000 was given to start the fund by Rosemont Ranch, a 30,000-acre working cattle ranch in southern Arizona and a subsidiary of Rosemont Copper.
The Bale-Out fund will provide much-needed emergency relief of hay and feed.
To date, 90 families have been tragically impacted and more than 800,000 acres - much of it grazing lands - have been consumed by the fires. While most livestock has been saved, critical grazing land is no longer available to feed their cattle.
"While ranchers were able to save their herds, the eradication of grazing areas places these families in a potentially catastrophic situation," said Patrick Bray, executive vice president of the Arizona Cattle Growers Association.
"With an annual economic impact of more than $3 billion, what affects ranchers affects us all, particularly in these rural communities already hit hard by the fires."
Loads of hay and other help have been donated to date, but feeding the cattle continues to be a challenging issue.
A contribution of $15 will feed a cow for three days, for example, while $250 will purchase a ton of hay, feeding approximately 60 cows for a day, Bray said.
Tax-deductible contributions can be sent to: Arizona Cattle Growers Association Arizona Bale-Out Fund, 1401 N. 24th St., Ste. 4, Phoenix, Ariz. 85008.
Contributions can also be made at any Wells Fargo Bank branch or by visiting www.azbaleout.org.