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Efforts to reduce wildfires in Paso Robles are underway with help from farm animals

goat salinas river.jpg
Posted at 6:19 PM, May 18, 2023

For the third year, goats and sheep are back in the Salinas Riverbed in Paso Robles to help clear vegetation that could become fuel for a wildfire.

The Goat Girls brought roughly 385 of their animals to the job site this week.

“The sheep are going to gravitate towards the grasses. The goats are going to gravitate towards brush and leaves in the trees,” explained Katie Bayer, Goat Girls herd manager.

Paso Robles Fire Battalion Chief Jay Enns says the animals are working in areas the fire department has identified as priorities.

"There’s about three miles to move through the riverbed in Paso Robles 'til we get to the southern end of town before they turn around and graze back up to the west side," Enns said.

Fire officials say that because of the amount of rain this winter, the animals did not start grazing until mid-May, which is later than in previous years.

"With the increased rain and moisture we experienced this year, it contributes to the grass crop and those are very receptive field beds for fire admission and carry the fire, especially when it gets windy, which we experience quite a bit here,” Enns said.

Fire officials say there has been a significant decrease in the number of acres burned from new fires since the start of the grazing project a couple of years ago.

The Goat Girls want to remind people to be cautious of the electric fence that surrounds the animals.