Kansas cattle ranchers struggle to recover from devastating prairie fires

Kansas cattle rancher Jenny Giles-Betschart and her family have owned 30,000 acres in the southern part of the state since the 1940s, but earlier this month wildfires decimated most of that land.

“It burned everything,” Giles-Betschart tells FoxNews.com. “We don’t have anything left.”

The fires ripped across the Plains states, killing grazing animals, incinerating grasslands and destroying homes and barns. Kansas was particularly hard hit. In Clark County alone, where Giles-Betschart lives, 400,000 acres were burned, according to the Kansas Farm Bureau.

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The wildfires in Kansas were the largest in the state’s history, with more than 651,000 acres destroyed in total. Large overgrowth combined with a long stretch without rain plus high late-winter temperatures led to much of the terrain becoming a tinder box that quickly became uncontrollable.

“The fire has taken the lives of thousands of cattle, ruined thousands of miles of fence, decimated most of the pasture used for grazing, consumed much of the hay they use for supplemental feed, and destroyed a substantial number of homes,” Meagan Cramer, with the Kansas Farm Bureau, tells Fox News. “Rebuilding will take years, not months, and tens of millions of dollars to rebuild herds, fence and other infrastructure these ranchers rely on for income.”

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