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Highway corridor range fencing begins

The provincial government will provide $1.35 million this year for the second instalment in a six-year, $10-million livestock fencing project.

BC Cattlemen's Association (BCCA) president Kevin Boon says his organization is administering the funds to fix fences along highways and railways for public safety and to reduce livestock losses to producers due to accidents.

"We're trying to spread funding throughout the province, so we're taking the top priorities in every area ... addressing highway safety, as well as livestock safety."

First, they assess the fence and then use a “matrix of considerations” that considers the condition of the existing fence, and the volume of both livestock on the land, and traffic on the highway.

Those ranked priorities are then reviewed by an oversight committee, including Boon and Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure staff, he explains.

Last year, contractors were busy with other projects, he notes, so fencing repairs were held for summer 2011.

The BCCA is now ready to start, Boon says, adding A.D. Fisher Contracting Ltd. co-owner Debbie Fisher has the contract to perform the work.

Fisher says the fencing will protect both the public and livestock along Schedule 2 and larger highways in British Columbia.

In the South Cariboo, she notes this will involve 51 kilometres of fencing for seven applicants along the corridors of Highway 97 and Highway 24.

The various railway fencing locations in the area are a lower priority because they don’t affect public safety, she says, adding these areas have not been determined.

Boon says there are also some access restrictions due to railroad liability, so there are more hoops to jump through before approval is given.

South Cariboo Regional Cattlemen's Association president Tal Pincott, who is also a BCCA director and a Forest Grove area rancher, says he agrees the fencing funding is good for the industry.

However, Pincott adds many livestock producers feel the province is responsible for fencing highways and railways along Crown land covered by range permits and grazing licences.

"It's not like [the government] said: 'Here, we're going to provide you with $1.35 million in fences. Where do you want them?' They are just basically rebuilding or fixing their responsibility for public safety."

Fisher says applications for next year's program are being accepted until Sept. 30. To be eligible, applicants must be livestock producers and the fence must be part of a system to contain livestock along Schedule 1 or 2 highways.

For information on the additional criteria, go to www.cattlemen.bc.ca.

 

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