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Sheep Hit The Hills In Carson City To Eat Cheatgrass Ahead Of Fire Season

The weather is getting warmer and fire season is right around the corner. To help cut down on potential wildfire risks, Carson City is looking for a little help of the four-legged variety. KUNR’s Lucia Starbuck reports.

On the south side of Carson City, more than 100 sheep from the Borda Land and Sheep ranch in Topaz are now happily munching on cheatgrass.

The herd was delivered this week and will eat its way through roughly 2,000 acres of the invasive species over the season.

Lyndsey Boyer is in a blue puffy jacket, sunglasses, and a baseball cap, and smiling at the camera. Behind her is an out of focus hill covered in weeds, dirt and rocks.
Credit Lucia Starbuck / KUNR Public Radio
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KUNR Public Radio
Lyndsey Boyer, the Open Space Manager with the Carson City Parks, Recreation & Open Space Department in Carson City, Nev., on Tuesday, April 13.

“They’re a perfect animal to use at the wildland-urban interface, so all the hills that are just adjacent to town here in Carson City. So, unlike cows, that are a little bit more stubborn and not as easy to control, or definitely goats, who are super naughty, we prefer the sheep,” Lyndsey Boyer, the Open Space Manager with the Carson City Parks, Recreation & Open Space Department, said.

Carson started using sheep as fire mitigation about 15 years ago, after the 2004 Waterfall Fire burned roughly 8,700 acres and destroyed 18 homes.

Boyer said the sheep become more crucial as the region gets dryer.

“It was definitely a dry winter. I’m hoping that we maybe get some spring precip’ and that’ll help, but it is looking like it’s shaping up to be another hard fire season,” Boyer said.

Carson City could use as many as 2,000 sheep through the end of May.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

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