In California and across the drought-parched West, programs are springing up to help goats, sheep, and cattle eat down the plants that would otherwise become fuel for wildfires.
As you read this, there are about 150 goats grazing their way through the grass and woodland areas surrounding Fitch Mountain, a local open space preserve in Healdsburg, California, an hour north of San Francisco. The goats will be there for the next few months, eating down the grasses and shrubs that would act as fuel for wildfires across 90 acres.
In a historically dry year, when nearly everyone in the West is bracing for another destructive wildfire season, these animals could be playing a key role in preventing the worst-case scenario. They get rid of the the “ladder fuels,” reducing the potential for burning ground cover to spread to the trees. And they also help protect the people and property in Healdsburg, which has seen major wildfires to the east and the west in recent years.