It’s been a long time since cattle and other livestock roamed the Irvine Ranch.
Now, some of them are back.
The Irvine Ranch Conservancy is employing goats across its steep ridges and rocky hills to suppress non-native grasses and reduce the vegetation that provides fuel for wildfires.
In addition, the nearby Cleveland National Forest – which recently suffered the Holy Fire – is now also employing 1,200 goats to eat away hundreds of pounds of dried vegetation, helping to keep Irvine and other local communities safe.
Goats are green: they remove non-native and invasive species without using chemicals or causing damage to native plants or the ecosystem.
They predominately browse on woody species, leaving ground vegetation alone. In our area, woody species are usually non-native and invasive, while ground vegetation is made up of many desirable native plant species, such as California’s native purple needlegrass.
Goats even eat hemlock, which is poisonous to humans and many other animals, but not to goats.
Their agility enables goats to safely reach vegetation in steep areas.
It’s a win-win situation, because the goats love eating the non-native vegetation on the ranch, while grazing costs are 25% lower than other vegetation management methods.
You can learn more about goats for fire fuel reduction, non-native and invasive plant management at Sage Environmental Group.
So if you see goats on the hills or mountains around Irvine, make sure you say hello.
They’re helping to keep us safe.
I’ve recently learned that the City of Irvine will be hosting a “goat demonstration” to which the public will be invited!
Watch this space for more info as it becomes available!