The Pine Ridge HOA Board of Directors took a very creative and eco-friendly approach to fire mitigation this year, bringing in 270 goats for five days to graze and clear away the unwanted weeds and scrub oak in the community. The topography that was a challenge in years past proved to be a natural fit for these four-legged mowers. Pictured above: Pine Ridge HOA Board Member Barb Saenger with grandsons Jacob and Breck and husband Lloyd watching over the process.
Article and photo by Kathy Fallert
In case you were wondering what all of that bleating was about last month, the Pine Ridge HOA brought in the help of a company called Green Goat LLC (GGL) for five days of fire mitigation. GGL provided 270 goats, along with some dogs and a goat herder from June 17 through June 22. An electric fence kept predators out while the goats ate the unwanted weeds and scrub oak to their hearts’ content.
Barb Saenger, resident member of the Pine Ridge board and head of fire mitigation projects has lived in Pine Ridge for 15 years. When asked about the decision to use goats, Saenger replied, “I went to the Douglas County fire mitigation seminar in May at the fairgrounds, which is where the board first heard about the use of goats. Afterwards, we looked into it online and researched it a lot. We were a bit skeptical at first.”
This is the third fire mitigation project Pine Ridge has undertaken. The first was in 2007 after the Cherokee Ranch fire which removed much of the dead scrub oak in the HOA’s 22 acres of open space. The second mitigation was in 2013 to treat scrub oak that had regenerated. Both projects implemented mechanical equipment which tore up the soil and spread the weeds.
With the help of some four-legged friends, round three of fire mitigation last month took a more healthy and natural approach. As it turns out, goats love weeds and scrub oak, goats provide fertilization, goats do not like grass, and best of all – goats can climb the steep ravines and rocky slopes that the mechanical equipment was unable to reach.
Saenger spoke with several organizations dealing with similar terrain issues in Roxborough and in Colorado Springs. “Everyone spoke very highly of Lani Malmberg the owner of GGL,” said Saenger. “We are excited to see how effective the long-term results will be!”