Story at a glance:

  • A team of goats led by camping pioneers eat grass to prevent less wildfires.
  • The goats then create manure that enriches the soil.
  • Whenever rescue teams pour gallons of water on wildfires, the goat-enriched soil will hold more moisture than before.

Wildfires on the West Coast have been a problem for some time, and climate change is intensifying heat waves that cause green forests to blaze.

However, a team of goats led by a herder is providing an innovative way to address the problem, The New York Times reported.


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Lani Malmberg is a 64-year-old goat herder whose fire-prevention technique involves her herd eating weeds while restoring the soil with manure.

The waste the goats leave behind helps the soil hold water, and the goats, unlike cows and other grazers, can eat grass, leaves and tall brush, the Times reported.

As Changing America previously reported, Malmberg is not the only one; in Southern Virginia, Jace Goodling created his business, Goatbusters, using a herd of 200 goats to eat an acre of unwanted vegetation.

The technique was introduced in the 1990s and practiced in California. 

Malmberg has assembled a small team of people to help with her organization, Goatapelli Foundation: her son, Donny Benz; his fiancé, Kaiti Singley; and an occasional unpaid intern. 

At her organization, she trains about 200 people in how to use goats to prevent wildfires. She said some of her trainees have launched their own businesses. 

Her start-up costs were about $360,000, Malmberg told the Times, including equipment and the livestock that she trains to enrich the soil.

“By increasing soil organic matter by 1 percent, that soil can hold an additional 16,500 gallons of water per acre,”  Malmberg said. “If helicopters come and dump water on the fires, nothing is done for the soil.”


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Published on Sep 24, 2021