Wasco County farmers and ranchers may be eligible for federal assistance to repair fencing destroyed by the summer’s wildfires, a local agency announced.

The Wasco/Hood River County Farm Service Agency said farmers and ranchers have until Nov. 30 to contact the local FSA office and request assistance through the Emergency Conservation Program.

They can apply for up to $200,000 per natural disaster, and the federal cost-share may not exceed 75 percent of the cost of repairs.

The money can be used for activities including restoring permanent fences; removing debris; grading, shaping or releveling severely damaged farmland; and restoring conservation structures and other similar installations.

For land to be eligible, the natural disaster must create new conservation problems that: would be so costly to rehabilitate, if untreated, that federal assistance would be needed to return the land to agricultural use; are unusual and not likely to recur; affects the land’s productivity; or impairs or endangers the land.

Eligible repairs must not be started until: a form FSA-848 application is filed; the land has been inspected; and the agency providing technical assistance has made a determination of needs, such as cubic yards of needed earthmoving, for example.

Lissa Biehn, executive director of the local FSA, said it won’t be known how many miles of fence have been damaged until farmers and ranchers apply for assistance. She said people are bringing in maps daily showing how many feet of fence were burned.

“We are looking at many, many miles of fencing,” she said.

For more information about applying for the ECP, contact Biehn at the local FSA office at 541-298-8559 x. 2, or visit www.fsa.usda.gov.

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