Could goats reduce fire risk on Bear Creek Greenway?

Jackson County, Ore. — After the Penninger Fire on Tuesday, many people have been thinking of ways to reduce the vegetation along the Bear Creek Greenway.

The most creative idea so far is goats.

But it would take some planning to turn the idea into a reality.

For 10 years, a group of goats have been eating their way through life.

They’re called “Hungry Goats for Hire”, and they will take on just about any job.

After recent fires along the Greenway, Shannon Riley thought… Why not use goats to reduce fuels?

“We have an opportunity to utilize our livestock… You know the goats in the area,” Sams Valley resident Shannon Riley said.

Ern russell says he’d be more than happy to put his goats to the task.

“They’re friendly, they’re wonderful, they’re talkative, they eat a lot,” Russell said.

He says they eat blackberries, chicory, star thistle, and tall grass.

But according to Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District, the goats would need to be highly controlled around the Greenway because they’ll eat just about anything put in front of them.

“Goats are non-selective browsers which means they’ll eat the blackberries, but they’ll also eat all the native trees and shrubs that have been planted or that are growing there naturally along the creek. And you don’t want to see that vegetation go away because that’s actually helpful for the streams, for the environment, for the soils,” Clint Nichols said.

Another concern is animal waste entering Bear Creek.

But if managed properly, the goats could significantly reduce the vegetation along the Greenway, and Riley believes the risk of fires would go down.

“If something could be developed and started in the Spring, by this time next year, there probably won’t be the fuels that are there now,” Riley said.

In Medford’s Land Development Code, livestock grazing is only permitted in exclusive agriculture zones.

But you can fill out an application before city council for permission, and the city of Medford has historically been comfortable with making an exception.

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