Goats eat brush along dry Ventura County hills to prevent wildfires

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- Goats were set free in Ventura County Wednesday to assist firefighters with clearing brush that could fuel wildfires.

The Ventura County Fire Department, along with other agencies, let the goats roam Simi Valley hillsides to eat the tinder-dry brush. Despite getting rain this winter, the rainfall has not made a deep impact on the brush.

The average amount of rainfall in Ventura County should be 15 inches per year, but last year the county only received 8 inches and only 6 inches so far this year.

"We have this tremendous crop of grasses out there...these grasses that were green just a month ago have all now tiered and turned brown," Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said. "We still have this dead, decadent brush as a result of the years of drought. With these dry grasses, now we have this latter fuel - these fine, flashy fuels that will carry the fire right into our decadent brush."

More than 450 goats were brought out to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to eat up acres of brush. One of the fire captains in charge of the program said the goats will be brought out for the next four to six weeks to eat up the dry grass down to the dirt to eliminate danger spots.

Even on a cool day, there is plenty of dry brush in Ventura County that could easily burn, fire officials said. They warn residents to make sure there is at least a 100-foot clearance between homes and brush as a safety precaution in case of any fires.
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