Amidst the terrible fires raging across California, there is a glimmer of good news – the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley has been saved from destruction. By a herd of five hundred goats:
In May, the library hired the goats to clear flammable scrub surrounding the complex as a preventative measure.
The goats ate the brush, creating a fire break that slowed the flames and gave firefighters extra time to react.
The library near Los Angeles was threatened by the Easy Fire, the latest in a spate of fires causing evacuations and power cuts across the state.
The caprine contractors included Vincent van Goat, Selena Goatmez and Goatzart. They helped save exhibits including an Air Force One jet and a piece of the Berlin Wall.
“We were told by one of the firefighters that they believe that fire break made their job easier,” Melissa Giller, a library spokeswoman, told Reuters.
The goats were hired from a local company – 805 Goats – to clear around 13 acres of land.
Scott Morris started the company last November and charges around $1,000 (£771) per acre of land.
At $13,000 it was a steal compared to the likely cost of fire damage. It is yet another useful reminder that minimising the extent and severity of forest and brush fires requires regular clearing of dead wood and undergrowth; something that in the past environmental activists have been often against as it supposedly destroys the natural habitat. Well, not as much as a catastrophic fire, in any case.
I hope that as a homage to the late Cold War politics one of the five hundred was named Goatbarchev. Here’s to the goats – and to the great local business!