Funding for Ranch Fences Lost in Wildfires Is Here

Texas ranchers and farmers are still recovering from the massive damage suffered in the April wildfires. Statewide the spring and summer fire season destroyed more than 6,000 miles of fencing. Something that can be a big expense to replace. Now there is more money available to help.

Newschannel 6 spoke with one ranch owner who lost nearly four miles of fencing in the April 15th wildfires. He says it will cost him about $30,000 to fix.

Michael Mitchell owner of ML Mitchell Ranch showed us all the brand new fencing and the work is not done yet. Once he is done he hopes to get reimbursements from federal grants he has already applied for. It is a huge help he says that will cut his bill in half.

Michael Mitchell lost 640 acres of land in the April 15th wildfires. He lives off F.M. 367 just west of Iowa Park. Eight buildings, three and a half miles of fencing, and 75 hay bales burned to the ground.

Mitchell says the only thing he could do was pick up the pieces and start over. "We just kind of started evaluating what we had and what we didn't. Of course we had all this land that had no fences on it, because they were all laying on the ground. We had livestock to take care of so you just get busy."

And getting busy to rebuild fencing was one of his first steps. Months later fencing still has Mitchell busy. "We had a lot of wooden post and you got to get that wire up and dispose of it. You have to get dozers in there and clear out the ground so that you can put down new fence. Then you can start the building process."

Once that fencing is up and ready he is looking at getting about 50 percent back in federal grants. "I think you have to look at it like you're not going to get anything. So if something comes along and it gives you some help, then you feel really blessed because you got that."

Michael Mitchell tells us he has not yet received the reimbursements for his pipe and t-post fencing. Once he is done the fencing has to be inspected to make sure it meets certain guidelines. Mitchell is looking to get back nearly $16,000.

Other ranchers and farmers needing assistance on fencing funding  right now can apply for Texas Department of Agriculture's Star Fund Grants. Applications are being accepted now through November 18th.

Contact your local AgriLife Extension Office for more information. Or you can call the Texas Agriculture Department at (512) 475-1615.  Click here to learn more about Star Fund Grants.

Natalie Garcia,  Newschannel 6