Goats helping prevent wildfires in Marin County hills

Bay Area

MARIN COUNTY (KRON) — The hills above San Anselmo in Marin County are being manicured by a massive herd of goats in an effort to prevent wildfires.

What you are looking at is one of three herds grazing the grasses and brush that could potentially fuel a wildfire.

The four-legged furry eating machines are being used to create a firebreak along the ridgeline surrounding Sleepy Hollow and will also help protect areas of San Anselmo, Terra Linda and Fairfax .

They are also being used to create defensible space behind homes at the top of the canyon.

This herd of goats is able to eat about an acre and a half a day of agitation so it’s believe they’ll be able to chime through the entire 500 acre or a fire breaks in about six months.

The Star Creek Land Stewards uses fences and dogs to help control and protect the herd. The project manager says other than the occasional bleating and headbutting,the goats are a quieter, more environmentally friendly way of fire prevention than using people with loud weed wackers.

“They’re a more natural way to manage the same problem that’s been done for centuries by elk and then cattle and now we’re here with goats and sheep,” said Biana Soares with Star Creek Land Stewards.

And while this is an return to the old way of preventing fires, it’s being done with a high tech twist.

“We did mapping careful mapping of this entire area. It’s quite detailed so we can look very closely at the fuel load is in all the different parts of Sleepy Hollow, and then using the latest scientific techniques we can model fires,” said Rich Shortall with Fire Safe Marin. 

The technique is proving to be very popular.

“Everybody loves goats and people pet them and they would say ‘what’s the name of the Goat’ and of course I didn’t have names,” said Shortall said. 

Now Firesafe Marin has created a fund a goat program — a $100 donation buys naming rights for one of the critters and helps cover the costs of cutting back what could be fuel during fire season.

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