Castle Rock, CO

Hungry goats help reduce wildfire risk in Castle Rock

Natasha Lovato

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The goats hard at work at the Metzler Family Open Space.The Town of Castle Rock

Natasha Lovato / NewsBreak Denver

(Castle Rock, Colo.) A herd of goats is working through Douglas County, snacking on flammable weeds and brush to help mitigate wildfire risk. 

Earlier this month, the goats helped clear plants in Castle Pines, and now the goats are clearing open space in Castle Rock. 

Electric fences contain the goats from Goat Green LLC while they work. Two border collies and herders guard the goats.

After clearing out the Metzler Family Open Space, the 500-member herd moved to the Woodlands Bowl open space to help remove overgrown foliage. 

If sparks hit weeds and brush, it acts like fuel for a fire. 

Reducing fire risk

This summer's drought conditions, dry climate, and heat make mitigating flammable material even more important. Using goats to mitigate noxious weeds also offers another option other than using herbicides which pose a deadly threat to wildlife, pets, and humans. 

Goats aren't exactly picky eaters. Goat Green says the goats have an appetite for thistle, bindweed, poison ivy, the leaves of Russian olive trees, and other vegetation that creates prime fuel for a fire.

The acrobatic goats can stand on their hind legs and climb other goats to reach vegetation up to five feet off the ground. The goats also can clear the underbrush of Gamble Oak that's hard for mowers to reach.

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A before and after comparison of the Metzler Farm.The Town of Castle Rock

First year to use the goats

This is the first year the Town of Castle Rock has used goats, and Castle Rock's Community Relations Manager Melissa Hoelting hopes goats will return in the future.

"We will be evaluating the benefits, cost and overall outcome after the grazing is done to evaluate the potential for use of the goats again. Initial site assessments, and the positive public response, indicate this could become a viable option in our noxious weed and wildfire management tool belt," Hoelting said.

To watch the goats at work, mind the electric fence, and visit the Woodlands Bowl outside the Recreation Center parking lot. The goats will be clearing brush through the first week in August.

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Lovato covers local news for Douglas County, Colo.

Douglas County, CO
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