The BC Government has committed $6.2 million to support the replacement of livestock fencing that has been destroyed in wildfires.
“This fencing is important to the safety of motorists as well as the ranchers and farmers to keep their animals contained and safe from harm,” says Ed Miska, Executive Director of Engineering Services with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“The rebuilding will start immediately and be ongoing throughout the fall.”
Of the $6.2 million, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will provide $2.2 million in funding in addition to the $2 million already invested for the existing provincial livestock fencing program for 2017/2018.
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.
“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.”
The BC Cattlemen’s Association will be coordinating the assessment and reconstruction of highway fences impacted using an established list of pre-qualified fencing contractors who are prepared to respond and begin construction on the fencing.
“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.”
About 100 kilometers 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.
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.