The late-season wildfire that whipped through the Central Montana farming community of Denton on December 1st, nearly wiped the town off the map. 25 homes and four grain elevators were lost in the blaze that also burned more than 10,000 acres.
2021 is going down as one of the most difficult years that Montana agriculture had seen in decades. Producers battled drought, grasshoppers, hail, high feed costs, market uncertainty and inflation. But farmers, ranchers, communities, businesses, schools and countless other people were ready to step and help the Denton community rebuild, even before the flames were out.
Help came in the form first of small volunteer fire departments sending whoever and whatever they could to help. Pretty quickly food, clothes and pet food were coming to help those who had been displaced by the fire.
From there, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone from rural Montana who hasn’t given money or donated an auction item to support the recovery.
Recently on the Voices of Montana Talk Show, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte pledged that the entire state will help rebuild Denton.
“I was proud of the response from community,” Gianforte said. “People came in from all across the state and my commitment to the people of Denton, we’re going to rebuild Denton. We’ve already put some plans in place. I donated a quarter of my salary from last year to the rebuild Denton fund at Opportunity Bank. If other people are in a position to help, it’s what Montanan’s do and its part of this Christmas season. We need to get our friends and neighbors in Denton back on their feet.”
Many Montanans have already given generously to the recovery, but the help is far from over. On Tuesday, The Marias River Livestock Association announced in a Facebook Live, that they are donating $1,000 to the relief effort and are challenging others across the state to join in, utilizing the hashtag #montananshelpingmontanans.
Earlier this month, the Crazy Mountain Stockgrowers issued a similar challenge after donating $1,000 themselves. So farmers and ranchers are stepping up in a big way to support the Denton community.
Marias River Livestock Association President Dean Lerum said, “This is Montana and we help each other. You don’t know the next time that you’re going to need a little bit of help. These folks didn’t expect to be in this situation, but they’re going to rebuild and we want to be a stepping stone in the process.”
Lerum said he’s hoping to see an additional $50,000 raised in the next week. “I want another 49 organizations or individuals to come and match us. But it doesn’t have to be a thousand dollars. If you’ve got an extra fifty or hundred bucks, donate it to the recovery, every little bit helps.
Lerum said that as a livestock organization, they’re targeting agriculture to drum up donations but he wanted to remind those who live in town to give as well. “These are the people that come and spend in town, stay in hotels and eat at restaurants. They are still the base of Montana, they come and support you, it’s your turn to support them.”
A link to donate directly to the fire relief fund can be found here. There will be more opportunities to come to support the Denton community. A live and silent auction event will be held in Lewistown on January 21-22. Friday the 21st will feature a silent auction, food vendors and live music. Saturday the 22nd will be a large live auction. More details can be found on the Denton Fire Relief Fund Auction Facebook page.
We here at Northern Ag Network wish we could mention every single individual or business who has given to the relief effort. From the Montana Seed Trade Association who donated $27,000 in their convention auction, to the CHS feed plant in Great Falls that donated 12 tons of bagged cake to producers who lost feed, to the many auction items donated. The generosity of Montanans is amazing. So in this Christmas season, please join us in giving what you can to those who need it.
Northern Ag Network