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11 months ago

Fire Department Used Goats To Fight California Forest Fires


Forest wildfires are a disaster of the first order. But the tools used to fight them are super-cool. Smokejumpers, who parachute into the wilderness to battle the flames. Tanker planes that scoop tons of water off a lake and dump it on the blaze without ever landing.

And goats. Yeah, that’s right. Goats.

The horned, yellow-eyed gluttons are an increasingly common tool for suppressing forest fires. The vegetation that grows between the forest canopy and forest floor – known as “understory” – can serve as tinder for the fires like those that have ravaged the Pacific Northwest this year. Conveniently, goats love to munch on understudy. A herd can strip the bark, leaves and berries off acres of forest in just a few days. The result is less easily igniting, fast burning undergrowth to fuel the next inferno.

Indeed, they are so effective that goat fire-suppression has become a growth business in areas prone to wildfires. Healing Hooves of Edwall, WA, was recently hired by the posh Suncadia resort to unleash its 250 goats on nearby understory. The goats, guarded from predators by an electric fence and guard dog, worked in one-acre parcels, gobbling everything they could get their teeth on, up to six feet above ground. When the goats finally wipe their mouths and move on, the area looks like it’s been mowed and weed-whacked.

Seattle-based Rent-A-Ruminant hires out its herd for both fire suppression and more routine yard work. Homeowners have discovered goats are perfect for eliminating hard to kill and invasive plants like English Ivy and wild blackberry bushes. The company has also been hired to eliminate brush that has provided cover for drug dealing and other criminal activity on public property.

California, you won’t be surprised to learn, has long been in the vanguard of the goat-fire-industrial complex. The state has numerous such companies, some of which have herds numbering in the thousands.

While machines are often the most economical tool for reducing understory, goats are better for hard to reach areas and places with soft soil. Plus, goats work ‘round the clock until the job is done, the vegetation they eliminate doesn’t need to be hauled away, and the goats’ digestive track often sterilizes seeds, thus slowing regeneration of the understory.

The busy season for fire-suppression in the Pacific Northwest is late spring through October. There is so much demand that Healing Hooves has turned away customers, and Rent-A-Ruminant has considered franchising its model.

I’m a big believer that retirees should consider taking a job or starting a small business to stay busy and bolster their income, especially as they transition out of a career. So, what do you think? All you need to cash in on this bonanza is a couple dozen goats, a place to keep them, a trailer and a border collie. It will get you outside, put some cash in your pocket, and provide an awesome answer when people ask, “What are you doing now that you’re retired?”

Disclosure: This information is provided to you as a resource for informational purposes only. It is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal. This information is not intended to, and should not, form a primary basis for any investment decision that you may make. Always consult your own legal, tax or investment advisor before making any investment/tax/estate/financial planning considerations or decisions.
Wes Moss is the Chief Investment Strategist at Capital Investment Advisors (CIA) a fee-only financial advisory firm based in Atlanta, and a partner at Wela, a digital advisory service which offers free financial management tools and the ability for clients to work online with a financial planner. In addition, he is the host of MONEY MATTERS – the country’s longest running live call-in, investment and personal finance radio show – on News 95-5FM and AM 750 WSB. In 2014, Wes published the best-selling book,You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think which has helped many people become happier retirees. Read more about Wes here.

 Contact Wes: [email protected]  404-531-0018

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12 months ago