Signs of recovery in wake of Oregon's biggest wildfire in history

VALE, Ore. (AP) — Green has returned to the landscape in far southeastern Oregon, where the Long Draw fire burned across nearly 900 square miles of grass and sagebrush territory in July, killing livestock and damaging the prospects of ranchers scratching for a living in the thinly populated region.

The Long Draw fire burned about 870 square miles. It was the largest in state history, eclipsing southwestern Oregon's Biscuit Fire of 2002.

Grass and other plants started to return as early as September, said Jeanette Yturriondobeitia, who ranches with her husband in the middle of the burn area along the Nevada border.

Many ranchers are already wondering when cattle will be allowed back on public land, she told the Ontario Argus Observer.

Much of the planned reseeding on public lands was completed by the middle of December, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

Thirty miles of temporary fencing has been built and grass has been seeded on nearly 60,000 acres and on 74 miles of bulldozer lines, said Carolyn Chad, associate manager of the bureau's Vale district.

The agency is also getting ready for a contract to seed sagebrush on more than 47,000 acres.

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Information from: Argus Observer, http://www.argusobserver.com

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