Community rallies in support of ranchers who lost land, cattle to wildfires

PAYSON, Utah — The Payson Future Farmer’s of America (FFA) members brought the community together to support those who lost a large part of their livelihood in devastating wildfires this summer.

“Who will give me two hundred?” the auctioneer can be heard rambling over a junior high cafeteria filled with members of the community.

It’s a fast-talking way to raise money for an event that left dozens speechless.

“There was a huge amount of loss up in the canyons,” said Kaden Mecham, Payson FFA’s president.

In recent weeks, two fires have devastated the community.

The Pole Creek and Bald Mountain fires consumed more than 120-thousand acres of land.

“A lot of the focus was on the fireman and the evacuees, but no one was talking about the people that actually lost the big things in the fire,” Mecham said.

Among those hit the hardest were farmers and ranchers.

“It’s the product that he loses at that moment that can ruin his entire livelihood,” Mecham said. “There’s a lot at stake for these farmers that lost a ton up in those fires.”

Many lost their cattle.

“When we don’t have as many cattle coming home, we don’t create as much revenue for our farms,” said Mike Lyman, President of the Payson Grazing Association.

Many others lost their grazing land.

“That impacts us maybe more than the cattle, we lose our land for several years,” said Lyman, who also lost cattle and land to the flames.

Lyman said for many farmers and ranchers, this is their livelihood.

“It’s our living, that’s how we pay our bills,” he said. “It’s a big loss.”

Now that the flames are near containment, one group of teens is trying to make a difference for their ranchers.

“It's great, these kids… they’re raised in this community, they’re raised in the ranching community,” Lyman said. “It’s really nice that they did this.”

Bringing the community together with full bellies, full hearts and generous wallets.

“Helps us rebuild our fences, rebuild troughs, get us back on our units as quick as we can,” Lyman said.

“Hopefully help a lot of peoples lives get easier,” Mecham smiled.

Payson FFA said the entire evening, from the food to the band, to the more than 75 auction items were all donated.

Now 100 percent of the proceeds raised will be given to three local Cattleman’s Associations for the farmers and ranchers who need it.