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In the aftermath of the wildfires, the Aurora farm facililty shipped more than 100 tons to help displaced animals

By Jenifer Cruickshank

The wildfires that ravaged western Oregon in September displaced thousands of head of livestock, along with their owners. County fairgrounds became evacuation destinations for cattle, horses, sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas, poultry, rabbits, and more.

Donations of feed and animal-tending equipment poured in from generous donors. Many other livestock found their way to private quarters on farms, at rodeo grounds, at horse-training facilities, and kind strangers' back 40s. Many had undamaged barns and pasture to return to. The less fortunate have stayed on in temporary quarters until their owners can sort out accommodations for them.

The OSU Extension Agriculture program in Corvallis coordinated an effort to assist landowners in need by providing three western Oregon hay donation and distribution points. The North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora was the donation and distribution location for the northern portion of the state.

COURTESY PHOTO: NWREC - In all, the NWREC staff in Aurora shipped more than 100 tons of hay and other forage to people who needed it after the wildfires.

Sam Angima, Extension's agriculture program leader and coordinator for the project, said that "Having NWREC's involvement was very important to this operation. NWREC has a central location, easy for people to find, had good access for bringing in the donated supplies, and had the staff, experience, space, and equipment needed to make this effort possible."

Extension partnered with individuals and organizations to establish the distribution points for donated hay, coordinate supplies and transportation. A simple online survey was widely distributed, where livestock hosts and owners could list their hay needs. Extension personnel helped connect those in need to their closest source of hay.

NWREC received donations of large and small bales of hay: alfalfa, grass, and grain. Supplies came from as far away as LaGrande and Klamath Falls, plus within the Willamette Valley. NWREC's farm staff managed all the incoming product and helped load out hay for grateful livestock owners and hosts.

According to Marc Anderson, NWREC's farm manager, "We heard some pretty amazing stories. People were very happy to be able to get feed for their animals and really appreciated everyone who made this happen."

An "exit survey" was used to help track inventory and for compliance with OSU's COVID management program. Nearly 100 tons of hay was distributed from NWREC during the month of October to provide forage for hungry horses, goats, sheep, cattle, and camelids.

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