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Goats employed to protect Reagan Library from wildfires

Goats employed to protect Reagan Library from wildfires
© Getty

A group of goats is being used to create a firebreak at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum in the Southern California community of Simi Valley and protect the property from wildfires, the Associated Press reports.

More than 350 goats were brought to the property this week to clear out brush surrounding the building, which puts it at risk of wildfires. Over the course of two weeks, the goats will eat away at the grasses and natural vegetation covering the 13-acre area of the property, the Ventura County Star reports.

Library spokeswoman Melissa Giller said the goats do a "tremendous job" of keeping the library safe during wildfire season, and credited them for saving it during the 2019 Easy Fire.

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Capt. Robert Welsbie, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department, told the Star the goats are paid for by the department.

"It's a way for us to showcase an alternative method, a greener way of clearing brush," he said.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum is home to several historic artifacts, including the Air Force One that Reagan flew on during his presidency and a piece of the Berlin Wall.

The goat program has been in effect for about five years now, notes Melissa Giller, chief marketing officer for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute. Before it was instituted, firefighters would come out and clear the brush by hand. 

Now each May, the Ventura County Fire Department sends 300-500 goats per year to spend 2 to 4 weeks at the Library munching on brush.

"In October 2019 when we had the huge fires that literally encircled the Reagan Library, multiple firefighters told us that one of the reasons they were able to save the Library from the fire was due to the fire break created by the goats from May 2019," Giller told The Hill.

Last month, California announced it would be putting $536 million toward combatting wildfires as the state has experienced an especially dry year, setting it up for another deadly wildfire season. 

"It is critical that we get a head start on reducing our fire risk," reads a joint statement from Newsom, California Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) issued in April. "We are doing that by investing more than half a billion dollars on projects and programs that provide improved fire prevention for all parts of California."