The animals spent four days in the Castle Pines neighborhood
by Mike DiFerdinando, June 22, 2015 — The goats used for fire mitigation in Castle Pines chew up the weeds … said Donnie Benz, one of the owners of Wyoming-based Goat Green.
For four days, 275 goats made the Pine Ridge neighborhood of Castle Pines home.
They hoofed grazed and drank in the backyards of homes, drawing onlookers.
“Everybody loves it. The kids are watching them,” said Arlene Armata, a Pine Ridge resident. “A woman who I’m friends with brought her 4- and 6-year-olds and they were fascinated by it.”
The herd was part of a new fire-mitigation strategy by the Pine Ridge Homeowners Association.
Wildfires nearly reached the neighborhood in 2002. Since then, mitigation has been a priority for residents.
The Pine Ridge HOA brought in a traditional fire-mitigation service that used heavy machinery in 2013, but the results weren’t what they had hoped for.
“They couldn’t go everywhere. There are 22 acres here and a lot of it is steep, especially in the back. The machines couldn’t get there,” said HOA board member Sandy Haworth. “It really junks up the soil too. The weeds go back in the soil.”
During a recent wildfire-protection seminar someone mentioned that goats could be used as an alternative and Pine Ridge decided to give it a try.
“In this case, we’re doing fire fuel mitigation so here went to take down the understory and remove all the fuel for the fire, so we’ll leave them in there a longer period of time to try and get most of the vegetation,” said Donnie Benz, one of the owners of Wyoming based Goat Green.
The goats were fenced in on the 22-acre property with an electric fence for the needed four days, where they ate the weeds and left the grass behind. Goats also offer an alternative to pesticide use.
These goats took on a similar project in Roxborough last year and have done work throughout the Denver metro area. They also work on commercial properties.
“The goats’ preference is to eat the weeds before the grass, so you’ll leave them in until they eat the seeds and weeds and then we’ll pull them out,” Benz said. “They never stop working. We say they irrigate and fertilize too because they go to the bathroom.”