Steamboat Springs The heavy snowfall and gusty winds that stranded tens of thousands of people and livestock in southeastern Colorado likely will not affect Routt County's cattle industry, a local agriculture official said Wednesday.
C.J. Mucklow, executive director of the Routt County Cooperative Extension Office, said although many ranchers in Northwest Colorado send their cattle to Colorado's Eastern Plains for the winter months, he is not aware of any local livestock caught in the massive snowdrifts that knocked out electricity in parts of southeastern Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Kansas and isolated rural communities and farms.
"We have some cattle in eastern Colorado (feeding) on corn stalks, but I don't know of anybody locally that is impacted with their cattle in the storm," Mucklow said.
U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, a San Luis Valley Democrat, asked President Bush on Wednesday to issue emergency funding for southeastern Colorado, which Salazar called a "disaster area" in need of immediate relief.
Citing statistics from the Colorado Division of Emergency Management, Salazar said about 350,000 head of cattle are at risk because of cold temperatures and lack of food.
National Guard helicopters have spend the past two days dropping hundreds of hay bales for livestock and food rations for stranded rural homeowners across the region.
Terry R. Fankhauser, executive vice president of the Colorado Cattlemen's Association, sent a terse e-mail Wednesday updating the situation and requesting aid from ranching communities.
"Will bring in a larger helicopter from Oklahoma that can transport round (hay) bales," Fankhauser wrote. "Need to establish loading zones near hay supplies and/or transport to airport for loading. Also have public works plows and military assets that can haul hay. Hopefully some of these can be spared from road clearing for feeding purposes."
Mucklow said Routt County has very little hay, if any, to send to southeast Colorado.
"We're one of the very few places that had a great hay crop, and most of it is already exported," Mucklow said. "It's very tight."
A blizzard in 1997 killed about 30,000 cattle and created livestock losses of $28 million in the state.
Colorado had an estimated 2.65 million head of cattle as of January 2006, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics.
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