The British Columbia government, in partnership with the BC Cattlemen’s Association, has repaired and replaced most of the 100 kilometres of essential livestock fencing destroyed by wildfires in the Interior of the province.
“While the impact of these devastating fires was extreme, this project is another example of the inspiring way British Columbians respond during a crisis,” said Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena. “Thanks in large part to the dedication and quick work of the BC Cattlemen’s Association and 11 contractors, cattle and travellers were kept safe during an already trying time.”
“Ranchers and farmers play a key role in the economy of the province, and the importance of livestock fencing cannot be overstated,” said Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Minister Doug Donaldson. “The speed with which construction began was truly remarkable, as workers were juggling concerns for their families with the needs of their industry and community.”
$6.2 million was provided for an estimated 100 kilometres of fencing along provincial highways, as well as 400 kilometres of Crown range infrastructure, that was damaged or destroyed in the fires. These conditions left ranchers and farmers at risk of losing valuable livestock, and caused the potential for livestock-related vehicle incidents on provincial highways.
The first priority was Highway 20 west of Williams Lake, where 60 kilometres of fencing was compromised. That portion of the work was recently completed, while parts of Highway 97 near Ashcroft, Cache Creek, 108 Mile and Williams Lake remain a work in progress.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure provided $2.2 million in funding to repair and replace livestock fencing adjacent to provincial highways. This is in addition to $2 million for the existing 2017-18 Provincial Livestock Fencing Program.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development contributed $4 million toward the repair and replacement of Crown range infrastructure. This includes fences that are not along highways, cattle-handling facilities, watering facilities and other range infrastructure on Crown range damaged or destroyed by the fires.
“The highest priority during a fire is human life and safety,” said Kevin Boon, general manager, BC Cattlemen’s Association. “The long-time partnership between B.C. cattlemen and government on the Highway Fencing Program allowed us to start building as soon as the funds were available, and we were able to keep the motorists safe from wandering cattle."
Motorists are advised that until the fencing replacement is completed in full, livestock may potentially wander on or near highways. Drivers are reminded to be mindful of this and to drive with caution.
Follow the work of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure online: http://www.tranbc.ca