Goats being used to help keep Bay Area fire safe

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Thousands of weed-munching goats are being used to keep the Bay Area fire safe this summer.

With rising temperatures comes increased fire danger and one Bay Area county wants to know exactly how well those weed-munching goats are actually helping protect us from wildfires. Contra Costa County has been running a test study with goats in Concord, just off Monument Boulevard.

The goats are from a company that started in Orinda in 1995. The company started out with 54 goats and now they have more than 8,000. These goats have an important job as California is in the midst of a drought and increasing fire danger.

Doing what they do best, the goats are an invaluable tool in the fight to keep the East Bay fire safe this summer.

In this case, here along the Walnut Creek canal, they're also doing a little flood protection and they're the objects of a 3-year study that's nearing completion.

"We're looking at the effectiveness of goats vs. sheep vs. our traditional methods of mowing and herbicides," Contra Costa County Flood Control spokesperson Mike Carlson said.

Carlson says the goats are more than carrying their weight.

"They do a wonderful job and actually they're the best ambassadors for the flood control district and the county that we have. I think what we're going to find out is it's going to be a combination of both the traditional methods and kind of these old world methods of grazing," Carlson said.

At least 200 goats are part of a much larger herd of 8,000. Based at a ranch in Orinda, Goats R Us has grown four-fold in the last 5 years.

"We're basically fire control. so when the grass gets real dry we bring the goats out. Our goats are out here to work, to keep the fires or any kind of problems down," Goats R Us spokesperson Leticia Solorzano said.

The only downside to using goats for grass and weed abatement so close to an important water supply is possible contamination.

But so far, the study shows the water here has not been compromised.
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animalfire safetyWalnut Creek
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