Starting July 5, 2022, on the hillside above Central Park, the City of Merritt is working with Vahana Nature Rehabilitation and their team of 144 goats to reduce wildfire risk and combat invasive plants. The team, supported by a crew of handlers, horses and dogs, will be spending the next 2 weeks removing dried and excess vegetation on the hillside between Central Park and Parker Drive.
Due to the slope, proximity of homes, frequent winds, and southern aspect, the hillside above Central Park can present challenges to implementing traditional methods of vegetation management. Goats are also 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.
An adult goat can eat up to 4.5kg (~10lbs) of dry brush every day. While goats will eat almost anything, the team of handlers, horses, and dogs keep them in check. If you are in the area, please be mindful that it is an active work zone and keep clear.
Thanks to Vahana Nature Rehabilitation, we can all enjoy the benefits of natural vegetation management and improved wildfire fighting power that can be used safely in residential areas. In addition, it’s an interesting story to share with your friends and family. Keep an eye out for them on the hillside!
Learn more about Goat Vegetation Management at Vahana Nature Rehabilitation: https://www.vahana.ca/