A California town is trying to hire a team of goats to fire-proof publically owned spaces.
Goats: there’s nothing they can’t eat. From poison ivy to overgrown azaleas, goats will chow down. That’s why Nevada City (located in California, strangely) is looking into getting their own team of goats to eat combustible vegetation from everything under 6 feet tall.
To that end, Nevada City has started a GoFundMe in order to get their goat project off the ground. Called “Goat Fund Me,” the city hopes to raise $30,000 in order to pay ranchers to have their goats come in and eat a bunch of stuff that might catch fire during the next wildfire season.
Nevada City was largely spared from the California wildfires, the most damaging of which destroyed 19,000 homes and buildings last year. But the city understands that their luck won’t hold out forever, and that action must be taken now before disaster strikes.
"Whether you are a homeowner, a renter, or a business owner, we are all in the same boat together, equally at risk for catastrophic fire,” reads the GoFundMe page.
The plan is to use funds raised to work with local ranchers and get herds of sheep and goats to graze on city-owned land. Sheep mostly eat grass, while goats mostly eat foliage (that’s just a preference--goats really do eat anything). By getting rid of dry and combustible foliage near the ground, the hope is to make it harder for future wildfires to spread.
About 450-acres of city land will be given over to “prescriptive grazing,” starting with a public demonstration at Pioneer Park.
But getting goats to come in from out of town doesn’t come cheap. It can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per acre for goats and sheep to graze, depending on the density of edible materials and how hard it is for the herd to get at it. There’s also a herdsman and herding dog that needs to be paid, as well as the requirement to water the herd and enclose the area to be cleared with temporary electrical fencing.
So far, Nevada City is at $20,000 of their $30,000 goal, and they need to hit that goal soon. Those local goat herds are all booked up for the summer, spring, and fall, so the only time to get these bushes eaten is over the winter months.