Belton Livestock recently did a self-audit on our farm & ranch insurance policy. Part of the discussion with the agent was the pros and cons of insuring our livestock. The wildfires in The West this past summer brought this issue front and center for us. The obvious drawback of insuring our cattle is the cost of the premium, especially given the fact that we are only on our Forest Service grazing permits for about three months out of the year. The agent deftly pointed out that those are the months that fires burn. Okay, okay….she has a point. For many years we have had protocol established for steps we will take if a fire breaks out on one of our permits. Colorado’s forests are naturally loaded with fuel and decades of red tape have impacted forest management decisions. Trees that, at one time in the not too distant past, would have been logged, are now arranged in messy piles all over the forest floor. Animals are not able to move freely between pastures and water, fences are decimated and large areas of the National Forest are blocked from foot, horse, and vehicular access. Livestock grazing on our permits reduces the fuel but may not be enough to address the glacial speed of federal land policy and the effects of prolonged drought. Although we are in an area that receives abundant snowfall and afternoon summer rain showers, the risk of wildfire still exists and that premium is sounding better and better.