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Medford's new fire prevention plan: Goats

Supporters have a long list of reasons why "goats" could be the answer to preventing wildfires in southern Oregon this year.

Posted: Mar 14, 2019 3:52 PM
Updated: Mar 15, 2019 11:37 AM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- With 79 days until fire season officially starts in Oregon, plans and preparation are in full swing.  Tonight, the Medford City Council will hear a propsal to hire goats to minimize fire risk in the city limits. It does require a city Code Amendment to allow goat grazing. The Medford Municipal Code currently prohibits livestock wihtin city limits, other than in the Exclusive Agricultural overlay district. 

NewsWatch 12 talked to Ern Russell, owner of Hungry Goats for Hire, in Eagle Point.  He says unlike cattle or sheep, goats can eat invasive weeds like blackberries.  He says they can also go places machines can't.  

In a memorandum from the City Manager Brian Sjothun to the Medford Mayor and City Council, he says "In the past several years, communities across the nation have turned to using goats formanaging overgrown vegetation, invasive weeds (inclucing blackberry vine overgrowth), and dense underbrush in fire-prone areas.  Goats are relatively fast workers, clearing large swaths of land in a matter of days; goats are also much more nimble than people and machines, and are ablet o navigate steep and rugged terrain. 

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