Nearly 2 million acres were burned, including thousands of miles of fences, some facilities and rangeland. Thousands of cattle were lost and thousands more had to be sold or relocated because nothing was left for them to eat. Tragically, seven lives were also lost to the fires.

Ron Smith 1, Senior Content Director

June 2, 2017

16 Slides

Thanks to a few timely rains and some warm weather, grasslands are recovering in the Texas High Plains following a devastating wildfire that roared through West Texas, western Oklahoma and Kansas in early March.

Nearly 2 million acres were burned, including thousands of miles of fences, some facilities and rangeland. Thousands of cattle were lost and thousands more had to be sold or relocated because nothing was left for them to eat. Tragically, seven lives were also lost to the fires.

A massive relief effort brought hay, feed, fencing, veterinary supplies, and, even more important, hope, into these devastated areas. Supplies and monetary donations came in from across the country as ranchers looked at the losses and realized that the same could happen to them.

‘It gave me new hope for our country,” said Hemphill County Extension Agent Andy Holloway.

Southwest Farm Press editor Ron Smith drove up in the Panhandle in May to check on recovery. These photographs show the resiliency of Mother Nature. The fortitude and persistence of the people in these areas is unimaginable.

About the Author(s)

Ron Smith 1

Senior Content Director, Farm Press/Farm Progress

Ron Smith has spent more than 40 years covering Sunbelt agriculture. Ron began his career in agricultural journalism as an Experiment Station and Extension editor at Clemson University, where he earned a Masters Degree in English in 1975. He served as associate editor for Southeast Farm Press from 1978 through 1989. In 1990, Smith helped launch Southern Turf Management Magazine and served as editor. He also helped launch two other regional Turf and Landscape publications and launched and edited Florida Grove and Vegetable Management for the Farm Press Group. Within two years of launch, the turf magazines were well-respected, award-winning publications. Ron has received numerous awards for writing and photography in both agriculture and landscape journalism. He is past president of The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association and was chosen as the first media representative to the University of Georgia College of Agriculture Advisory Board. He was named Communicator of the Year for the Metropolitan Atlanta Agricultural Communicators Association. More recently, he was awarded the Norman Borlaug Lifetime Achievement Award by the Texas Plant Protection Association. Smith also worked in public relations, specializing in media relations for agricultural companies. Ron lives with his wife Pat in Johnson City, Tenn. They have two grown children, Stacey and Nick, and three grandsons, Aaron, Hunter and Walker.

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