LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – People opposed to a proposed burn at the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge say a woman has come up with a much better way to curb the fire risk.
Lani Malmberg says goats love to eat weeds, and therefore can be a good way to get rid of tall ones that can fuel a wildfire all over the refuge land.READ MORE: A-Basin Gets The Go-Ahead For Improvements That Include Lenawee Chairlift Replacement, New Restaurant Space
Malmberg manages a herd of 900 hungry goats in Northern Colorado just east of Wellington.
“The older ones teach the young ones everything; teach them what to eat, how to eat,” she said.
Malmberg runs a business built on her goats and their appetites. Because they eat weeds they’re good problem solvers — especially for the sort of problems facing the Rocky Flats refuge, according to Malmberg.
From the 1950s to 1990s the United States used Rocky Flats outside Denver to make nuclear weapons. In 2001 Congress turned the site into a national wildlife refuge. After extensive cleanup efforts the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is looking for a way to stop the spread of invasive weeds, prevent wildfires and rejuvenate native grasses.READ MORE: Amache Incarceration Site In Colorado Could Become New National Park
One option is a controlled burn. But that has produced sharp criticism from people who fear the fire could put plutonium into the air.
Malmberg says citizens groups have asked her and her goats to step in.
“They’re self-propelled by the problem, whether it’s fire mitigation or the weeds or whatever, that’s the fuel,” Malmberg said. “Then they recycle, which makes it into individual nutrients back to the soil.”
In a statement, the Fish and Wildlife Service says it’s considering all options and has not yet made a decision.
“This is so simple and so incredibly cheap,” Malmberg said. “And they’ve spent $7 billion. I can tell you I won’t be anywhere near $7 billion.”MORE NEWS: Vail Residents Urged To Consider Flood Insurance Ahead Of Spring Runoff
It was actually the cleanup effort that cost billions. If a prescribed burn it chosen, it would likely be done in the spring or summer. Malmberg says her goats could do the job for about $1,000 a day.