A Few Thoughts by John Nalivka – Raising cattle and performing life-saving deeds
Malheur County, Oregon covers nearly 10 thousand square miles (9,929.99 to be exact). Bordering Idaho, it is the 12th largest county in the U.S. and has a population of about 33,000. My wife and I live near Vale, the county seat with a population of about 2,100. Readers may have seen or heard recent stories that this is one of the Oregon counties looking to secede from the state of Oregon and move to Idaho. So once again you might ask, where is Nalivka going with this and what does it have to do with raising cattle?
I thought I would shift gears and relay an incident that occurred in our county last week. It involves an emergency and successful rescue in this vast high desert country. It also involved local ranchers who were instrumental in this successful rescue and subsequently, a happy ending. The experienced hiker was on a six-month planned hike and was in the southern end the county near the Nevada border at an elevation of about 7,000 feet when she was hampered by severe blizzard conditions. She was unable to proceed and getting hypothermia, but fortunately, she had a GPS rescue device and activated it to contact the Malheur County Sheriff’s office in Vale.
Knowing that time was critical in this rescue and they had the added time of getting to the area, the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Manager called a ranch manager in the area and asked if they could assist. Of course, the answer was yes and they “saddled up” on ATVs and headed to the hiker’s GPS rescue coordinates with the additional challenge of 3-foot snow drifts. What would have been a normal 45-minute trip on 4 wheelers took about four and a half hours with the last half-mile walking. On the way out, they were met by members of search and rescue and successfully got the hiker safely to the town of Jordan Valley.
These are ranchers who graze cattle and contribute to the economy of Malheur county, the state of Oregon, and the U.S. beef industry, but more importantly last week, they were there to assist in rescuing a hiker in a life-threatening situation. People enjoy recreation on public lands where these ranchers graze cattle with Federal grazing permits and for some, it might be easy to rant against the cattle. This is a story about something more than that often-used word “sustainability” when we discuss ranching on Federal land or as the signs out here say, “Your Public Lands.” It’s about going above and beyond to help another human being and this is only one incident. There are many others.
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