Local Community Fights Fire With ... Livestock

FORESTHILL, CA--It sounds funny at first glance, but one local community managed by EBMC found a unique way to fight the near-constant threat in California of brush fires . . .Goats and sheep.

Some 600 of the above-mentioned livestock were dispatched recently to the Foresthill community of Monte Verde, about 130 miles northeast of San Francisco, as an eco-friendly method of trimming brush and low-hanging limbs. Monte Verde is a community of private homes now under expansion. Some 26 families currently live there.

“This particular area has been hit hard by drought and beetles that are killing a lot of local trees,” explains EBMC Senior Vice President Karen J. Brigg. She says that removing the dead trees, limbs and brush in the community’s undeveloped acreage helps limit the spread of both fire and pest.

And the Monte Verde community is very proactive in staying on top of the situation. In fact, the initiative was part of the National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise program, and Monte Verde is a certified Firewise Community. According to the website, the program “teaches people how to adapt to living with wildfire and encourages neighbors to work together and take action now to prevent losses. We all have a role to play in protecting ourselves and each other from the risk of wildfire.”

But it was the local homeowners association that took the initiative to “hire” the livestock to help maintain the hours Monte Verde needs to maintain its Firewise status. A local livestock company provided the four-legged firefighters. Brigg says they are becoming an increasingly popular way to manage fire conditions.

In fact, Monte Verde is not the only EBMC property to utilize goats as an ecofriendly solution to fire prevention.Other such communities within the portfolio include The Headlands in Marin City, Shelter Ridge in Mill Valley, Victoria HOA in Petaluma and Spyglass Hill in Larkspur, all in California.

This natural method of brush removal could take a bit longer than machines--it took a week-and-a-half to complete the first-phase cleanup (approximately 10 acres) before the goats moved on to the larger, 23-acre phase-two area, but Brigg says speed wasn’t the goal and everyone involved in the project is more focused on the dual benefits, a safer environment achieved “using a non-evasive approach.”

In fact, she says, so effective has the method proven so far, that, “we’ll probably sign up to do it again next year.”

For more information on Firewise, click here.

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