Durango’s new business fights fire with goats
DURANGO, Colo. – A former wildland firefighter has helped start a new business in Durango called Durangoats, which uses an unconventional weapon to reduce the risk of fire.
They unleash a herd of 12 goats on properties with invasive plants, weeds and shrubs, for the goats to munch on.
Johnathan Bartley, is one of the co-founders of Durangoats. He said he spent four years fighting fires in the Pacific Northwest.
“It doesn’t take long to recognize that we are mismanaging our forests and although what we are doing right now is necessary, because we are saving homes, saving people’s livelihoods, there is a better solution,” did he declare.
When Bartley moved to Durango, he soon discovered the solution was goats.
“I became friends with local goat cheese producers in town, Breen Mesa Farms, and in February they told me they had 90% male goats,” he said.
Bartley then said that they offered him some of these male goats and offered to guide him.
With no experience with farm animals, Bartley took these unwanted goats and raised them to do what they do best – snack.
“What they do is clean up what’s called ladder fuels…so if you take out the lower level fuel you get a bit more fire safe environment – there’s a gap between the creeper and the high canopy,” Bartley said.
Goats take a section of thick brush and thin it out.
“There are a lot more benefits than just coming here with a chainsaw job, it’s also more economical and you know you’re doing what nature intended,” Bartley added.
Although Bartley misses being a firefighter, he said he always makes a difference, just with different companions.
“I feel like I’m still playing a part in it, like you don’t need to be on the front line to help fight wildfires.”
Bartley added that grazing goats also contributes to water retention and helps eliminate invasive plant species.