The unconventional weapon against future forest fires: goats
In 2020, Ms. Malmberg co-founded the non-profit Goatapelli Foundation to train people in using goats to prevent wildfires. She said of the roughly 200 participants, only a few had started their own businesses. Start-up costs could total $ 360,000, Ms. Malmberg said, including equipment and livestock, which she raises herself.
“Lani is a leading example of someone who led the way and is a pioneer in this prescribed grazing industry,” said Brittany Cole-Bush, one of Ms. Malmberg’s mentees and owner of Shepherdess Land and Livestock in the Ojai Valley, California. “We want to support ecology as much as possible. We want to support the growth of native perennial grasses. Ms. Cole-Bush, who uses goats and sheep in her business, believes fortifying perennial grasses, rather than planting grass each year, will make the land more drought tolerant.
Ms. Malmberg, holder of a master’s degree in weed science from Colorado State University, spends most of the year traveling west for work. Last year, for the first time, the Bureau of Land Management contracted Ms Malmberg and her goats for fire mitigation in Carbondale, Colo.
“We thought the goats could achieve our goals with their ability to work on steep slopes,” said Kristy Wallner, rangeland management specialist for the local office of the Colorado Valley office. “It will be a useful tool that we will use to move forward.”
In the urgency of preventing the worsening of wildfires, state and local agencies that wish to remove excess weeds rely on herbicides and machinery as well as prescribed burns: intentional fires that periodically clean up the weeds. undergrowth, dead trees and other combustibles.
“Because of the forest fires, more and more people understand the emergency and are ready to try different tools beyond what they are used to,” said Jenn Balch, member of the board of directors of the Goatapelli Foundation which plans to start a business in the northeast that uses goats to restore overgrown meadows and recreation areas.