California had its worst year of forest fires in history.
- The 2,800 square miles burned in California last year is the “highest in recorded history.”
- More than 100 people died in the state’s 8,000 wildfires.
- More than 39,000 square miles of wildlands remain under very high or extreme fire threat, Cal Fire said.
What to do? The environmentalists have stopped action to reduce the risk that piles of dried, flame-friendly dead wood pose to the state, so concerned residents have no choice but to depend on their ingenuity. Meet the citizens of Nevada City, California.
Nevada City is especially vulnerable because it is a patchwork of urban streets and forests — with no separation between the two. Senum says that the 450 acres of wild land within the city limits are “choked” with overgrown — and highly combustible — vegetation.
If only they could get rid of all that combustible material, say with a controlled burn or something. Unless…
Obtaining government grants is a slow process, so last December Senum launched a crowdfunding campaign — Goat Fund Me.
Funds will be used to rent herds of goats to chomp down vegetation and create firebreaks that prevent wildfires jumping from trees and plants to homes and businesses.
Apparently, goats are a thing.
Using goats to help prevent wildfire is a growing trend across California and other western states in the US. Johnny Gonzales runs Environmental Land Management which operates a herd of 1,200 goats that work in cities throughout southern California. He says interest in goats is at an all-time high.
Other goat rental companies include Goats R Us, Rent a Goat and Goats on the Go.
These goats are voracious, eating 8-10lbs of food a day. They have a security detail too, protecting them from native predators like coyotes and mountain lions.
“They’re very effective and it’s a great method of clearing the vegetation in an environmentally friendly way,” Public Information Officer, Daron Wyatt says.
The deadly wildfires in California are frequently attributed to
global cooling, global warning, climate change. But that is not the main reason, says one expert.
While some want to blame global warming for the uptick in catastrophic wildfires, Zybach said a change in forest management policies is the main reason Americans are seeing a return to more intense fires, particularly in the Pacific Northwest and California where millions of acres of protected forests stand.
“We knew exactly what would happen if we just walked away,” Zybach, an experienced forester with a PhD in environmental science, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Zybach spent two decades as a reforestation contractor before heading to graduate school in the 1990s. Then the Clinton administration in 1994 introduced its plan to protect old growth trees and spotted owls by strictly limiting logging.
Less logging also meant government foresters weren’t doing as much active management of forests — thinnings, prescribed burns and other activities to reduce wildfire risk
And Zybach is not the only one skeptical of the climate change excuse. “Global warming may contribute slightly, but the key factors are mismanaged forests, years of fire suppression, increased population, people living where they should not, invasive flammable species, and the fact that California has always had fire,” University of Washington climate scientist Cliff Mass told TheDCNF.
At least there’s good news coming from Nevada City: the city is almost at its goal of $30,000 goat dollars. “My saying is — the more we raise, the more we graze, ” says city manager Reinette Senum.