Merritt welcomes back target grazing goats to reduce wildfire risk
By CFF StaffHeadlines News Wildfires Emergency & disaster management Wildland goats wildfires
May 25, 2023, Merritt, B.C. – Merritt is welcoming back the Vahana Nature Rehabilitation and their team of more than 100 goats in June to conduct target grazing along the slopes between the Merritt Golf & Country Club and Juniper Drive, as part of the city’s fire rescue department initiative.
The Merritt Community Wildfire Protection Plan states that residents living above Central Park are located in an extreme wildfire interface threat area.
This risk arises from the south-facing slope, predominantly dry fuels, and proximity to a heavily used park. These factors increase the concern for a grass fire caused by human activity, which could spread rapidly and pose a threat to homes in the neighbourhood along Juniper Drive.
Prescribed burning is not an optimal approach for treating this fuel-laden area.
Goats, however, can be herded to the prescribed area and eat up to 10 pounds of dry brush every day. They provide a natural, environmentally-friendly way of reducing tall brush, grass, leaves, invasive plants, and other potential wildfire fuels.
Last year, Vahana Nature Rehabilitation’s goats grazed the area below Parker Drive and reduced the overall fuel load while enhancing safety for residents in the event of a fire.
This year, approximately 130 goats will be deployed to carry out targeted grazing on the slopes below Juniper Drive.
The goats are expected to arrive around June 8 and will be working the area for approximately 10 days.
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