MONTEREY – Billies, nannies and kids have brought their voracious appetites to a local park to help with wildfire prevention in the Monterey area.
Hundreds of goats have been brought into Monterey County’s Jacks Peak Park to eat their way through thick vegetation that is the fuel for fires.
Hand crews first clear fire fuels and select dead or dying trees that pose a risk. They are then followed by the 600 grazing goats. Work crews later go back into the targeted area to remove additional debris exposed by grazing.
The goat’s task will take several weeks to accomplish as part of a multifaceted wildfire prevention program at the park and surrounding areas. A $116,789 grant from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is paying for it.
Monterey County often uses the ecologically-friendly partners in fire prevention and clearing efforts in county-managed areas, finding the creatures helpful because of their big appetites and ability to graze down vegetation and reach low-hanging tree growth. The type of vegetation clearing the goats provide is also beneficial to native plants and trees according to the county.
Over the course of the past few years, Monterey County has experienced several devastating wildfires and current dry conditions are raising concerns among forestry, fire and county officials.
Jacks Peak Park is an 892-acre county park at high risk of wildfire due to its location, environment and vegetation. It is located between the Monterey-Salinas Highway 68 to the north, Carmel Valley Road to the south, Highway 1 to the west, and Laureles Grade to the east. The park is home to one of the last remaining natural stands of Monterey Pine trees in the United States and provides vast views of Monterey Bay, Carmel Valley and the Santa Lucia Range. It is a popular spot for picnics, hiking, and bird watching.
The fuel reduction project area is 40 acres in the park between Carmel Valley and the Monterey area. As the goats graze eastward making a 100- to 200-foot swath along Pine Road through the park, they are supervised and protected by herders, dogs and electric fencing. While the goats perform their work in the park, there may be intermittent park road closures as the herd changes locations.
Contributed by local news sources