In June 2023, the City of Merritt is welcoming back the Vahana Nature Rehabilitation and their team of more than one hundred goats to conduct target grazing along the slopes between the Merritt Golf & Country Club and Juniper Drive, as part of the City of Merritt’s Fire Rescue Department initiative.

According to the City’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP-2015), residents living above Central Park are located in an extreme wildfire interface threat area. This risk arises from the south-facing slope, predominantly dry fuels, and proximity to a heavily used park. These factors increase the concern for a grass fire caused by human activity, which could spread rapidly and pose a threat to homes in the neighborhood along Juniper Drive. Prescribed burning is not an optimal approach for treating this fuel-laden area.

Goats, however, can be herded to the prescribed area and eat up to 4.5kg (~10lbs) of dry brush every day. They provide a natural, environmentally-friendly way of reducing tall brush, grass, leaves, invasive plants, and other potential wildfire fuels. Goats reduce the need for herbicides and costly back-breaking labour. And they can actually improve soil quality, as their digestive system breaks down weed seeds, leaving recycled plant material to enrich the soil.  Enriched soil increases its potential to hold water, further adding fire protection even after the goats are gone.

Last year, Vahana’s goats successfully grazed the area below Parker Drive, effectively reducing the overall fuel load and enhancing safety for the residents in the event of a fire. This year, approximately 130 goats will once again be deployed to carry out targeted grazing on the slopes below Juniper Drive.

The goats are expected to arrive around June 8, 2023, and will be working the area for approximately 10 days.

Note that the goats will be housed overnight on City-owned property at Pineridge Cemetery, located at 1675 Juniper Drive. This location provides an additional area for targeted grazing. Please remain vigilant for goats crossing to the grazing area during mornings and evenings.

Residents are asked to not interfere with the goats and their handlers, which include a crew on horseback and herding dogs. Please give the team plenty of room to work. Remove or secure outdoor storage on your property to avoid posing a risk to the goats, as they have hearty appetites. And remove any yard waste deposited in the treatment area and outside your property boundaries that may have accumulated during spring cleaning, as decaying yard waste can make the goats ill.

To get a good view of the goats, residents can access the viewpoint at 1902 Parker Drive.

Learn more about Goat Vegetation Management at Vahana Nature Rehabilitation:

If you have further questions, please feel free to contact Merritt Fire Rescue.


Residents can help reduce the threat of wildfire by employing FireSmart practices around their homes. FireSmart rebates for 2023 are available. Check out  for more information. This can be further supported by the fire department.

If you are interested in a member of our team completing a free home assessment to help identify your homes specific risk, please contact the Merritt Fire department at (250) 378-5626.

We encourage all residents to take advantage of our upcoming free yard waste bin program this summer.  These bins are designed for the disposal of general yard waste, including leaves, pine needles, twigs, and small branches. However, we kindly ask that you refrain from placing large dimensional branches, logs, stumps, or similar items in the bins. Specific dates and locations will be announced on our Facebook page at

Additionally, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) offers a convenient option for disposing of residential yard waste at no cost. You can visit the Lower Nicola Eco-Depot at 2348 Woodward Road; open daily from 8 am to 4 pm.

This project is made possible thanks to the 2023 CRI FireSmart Community Funding & Supports grant, providing the City of Merritt with up to $86, 818.26 to support public education, the FireSmart Home Assessment and Rebate program funding, as well as funding for this target grazing program with goats.


Reduce Your Wildfire Risk

By Merritt Fire Rescue Department, Krista Minar

Learn how to reduce your wildfire risk by attending this free, with dinner provided, presentation on FireSmart.

June 6, 2023
6:30 PM – 8:30 PM PDT
Merritt Civic Center