DURANGO, Colo. – A former wildland firefighter helped start a new business in Durango called Durangoats, which uses an unconventional weapon to reduce the risk of fire.
They release a herd of 12 goats on the property with plants, weeds and bushes for the goats to nibble on.
Johnathan Bartley, is one of the co-founders of Durangoats. He said he spent four years fighting wildfires in the Pacific Northwest.
“It doesn’t take long to realize that we were mismanaging our forests, and while what we’re doing right now is necessary because we’re saving homes, we’re saving people’s livelihoods, there’s a bigger solution,” he said. he.
When Bartley moved to Durango, he quickly discovered that goats are the answer.
“I became friends with the local goat cheese farmers 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 those male goats and offered to mentor him.
With no farm animal experience, Bartley took those unwanted goats and raised them to do what they do best – chew the cud.
“What they’re doing is scavenging what’s called the fuel at the scale … so if you eliminate the bottom-level fuel, then what you have is a bit more of a safe fire environment – there’s a gap between a creeping fire and to that lofty one,” said Bartley.
The goats take some of the thick brush and thin it out.
“There are so many more benefits to coming here with just chainsaw work, it’s also more economical and you know you’re doing what nature intended,” added Bartley.
Although Bartley misses being a firefighter, he said he’s still making a difference, just with different friends.
“I feel like I’m still playing a part in it, like you don’t need to be out there on the front lines to be a part of wildland firefighting.”
Bartley added that goat grazing also helps retain water and helps eliminate invasive plant species.