- The Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in California’s history, killed more than 80 people last year.
- To prevent the next big wildfire, Nevada City, California has launched a $US30,000 GoFundMe campaign for renting goats.
- The goats graze on bushes and low-lying trees, which helps lower the probability of fires in the area.
- Other US cities, including Tucson, Arizona and Savannah, Georgia, have also used goats to clear underbrush.
In November last year, California was hit by the deadliest wildfire in state history, as the Camp Fire killed more than 80 people and scorched over 150,000 acres.
Wildfires have become so frequent in California that some fire experts say the concept of wildfire seasons is now outdated. Local officials are working to prevent another catastrophic wildfire, and one city has decided to rent goats for clearing flammable brush.
Nevada City – located less than 80 miles away from Paradise, which was leveled during the Camp Fire – recently launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $US30,000. According to the fundraising page, the money will be used to hire a herdsman, put up electric fencing, get a herding dog, and obtain a campaign trailer, water wagon, and transport trailer.
The goats will help by grazing on bushes and low-lying trees, which are at risk in areas prone to wildfires.
“There is little need to stress how important it is to the safety and wellbeing of Nevada City citizens and neighbouring residents that we reduce the fire load in our surrounding forests and neighbourhoods,” the GoFundMe campaign said. “The unprecedented fires in California, particularly in Paradise, have hit all too close to home and have become the ultimate Cautionary Tale.”
According to the crowdsourcing page, Nevada City is working with ranchers to use goats for prescriptive grazing on the city’s land, which includes more than 450 acres of greenbelt. Prescriptive grazing costs between $US500 and $US1,000 per acre of land, and Nevada City says 200 goats could get through one acre in a day.
Over the past few years, several other US cities have relied on goats to help manage land. Four years after Hurricane Sandy hit New York and damaged parts of Prospect Park in Brooklyn, the city brought in goats that began eating invasive underbrush. Fast Company reported that the underbrush was killing native flora and making it more difficult to restore the park.
From Tucson, Arizona to Savannah, Georgia, other cities have also turned to goats as they looked to clear their land. Even Google uses goats to mow the lawn at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California.
This trend has been adopted in some European countries as well. In northern Spain, for example, the “Goat Fire Brigades” graze on land that is vulnerable to wildfires.
Nevada City is taking steps to obtain a grant for its own goat rental, but the city says this process could take weeks or even months. The GoFundMe page emphasised that grazing needs to begin in the winter, as ranchers have already rented out their herds from the spring to the fall.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $US15,400.
- Read more about wildfires:
- The record-breaking year of deadly fires in California was stoked by distinctly devilish winds – here’s how they work
- California’s biggest gas and power company is in multibillion-dollar bankruptcy talks after last year’s devastating California wildfires
- California’s Camp Fire has melted cars and reduced bodies to bone – these images show the horror of the state’s deadliest fire ever
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