Goats are industrious eaters.
They may not eat tin cans like in cartoons from the 19th century, but they are opportunistic grazers, eating all kinds of plants—especially pesky and hardy weeds—that are otherwise difficult to get rid of. One California town wants to make use of that for fire prevention.
Because goats will eat difficult-to-remove weeds and vines, like poison ivy, they’re often called upon to devour invasive or annoying plants and vines. Brooklyn’s Prospect Park has for a couple of years called in a pack of goats to help recover from hurricanes which enabled the growth of invasive weeds, a request that’s common around the country.
The town of Nevada City, which despite its name is in California, wants to hire goats for a related reason. Nevada City lies northeast of Sacramento, and is perennially at risk of wildfire damage. Less than 50 miles from the town of Paradise, which was completely destroyed by wildfires last year, Nevada City has a robust fire department, but that isn’t always enough. Residents of the city launched a GoFundMe they’ve called GoatFundMe: a request for goat help.
What they’re looking for is money to hire goats for prescriptive eating. Prescriptive, or targeted, grazing is a method to reduce flammable material, like the dry, overgrown brush that’s so common in inland California. Goats will eat that stuff right up, reducing options for fire to spread, and they do it efficiently: the cost per acre is significantly cheaper for goats than for humans, and at comparable speed. Other California communities have used goats for decades, though none have come up with a catchy crowdfunding name.
At the time of writing, the GoatFundMe has already raised half of its $30,000 goal.