A neighborhood in Castle Pines is using goats to clear fire fuel to protect itself from the potential for future fires.
The PineRidge HOA decided typical fire mitigation work wasn't the way to handle 22 acres of land with heavy grass, brush and weeds adjacent to the neighborhood. So, they hired Goat Green to bring in 300 goats. The company uses the animals to clear out fuels for wildfires.
"So, instead of having tractors rip through an open space, and ripping up the soil which leaves it open for noxious weeds, instead of having diesel fumes and the noise from the diesel engines, we have 300 goats," said Einar Jensen. Jensen is the risk reduction specialist for South Metro Fire, who are overseeing the project. Jensen said it will take a couple of weeks for the brush and weeds to be cleared out, but the results are dramatic.
"We know there's a possibility for fires here, we know that as humans we can make a difference, not in if the fire burns, but how the fire burns," said Jensen.
The PineRidge neighborhood is no stranger to fire. Residents remember the 2001 Cherokee Ridge fire that burned up to the neighborhood's edge before wind pushed it the opposite direction.
"We decided that we needed to do something for fire mitigation," said Loyd Saenger.
The goat mitigation drew a sizeable crowd Saturday morning. Families brought out their kids whose attentions were captured by the 300 goats grazing on 1.5 acres at the corner of PineRidge Lane and PineRidge Terrace.
The goats will make short work of anything green within their reach.
"So, they're eating the ladder fuels, fire mitigation. So, they're recycling through their gut. You don't have a pile of um, branches and leaves to deal with, that are also a fire hazard," said Lani Malmberg, co-owner of Goat Green.
Malmberg said one of the benefits from using goats of large tilling machines is that the goats eliminate any weeds, naturally. Tillers just rotate weeds into the ground, which will continue to grow.
"So, [the goats] have four stomachs. So, they fill up, they eat 3 or 4 hours, they lay down, chew their cud, process... and then get up and scatter all of that on the hillside," said Malmberg.
After the goats are finished with the 1.5 acres of land, the owners simply move the fence and herd the goats with border collies into the new space.