Marin County Open Space has joined other agencies in Marin and hired some special workers to clear out the underbrush and reduce fire danger in our open spaces. If you’ve been hiking or walking your dog on the Ridgewood Trail, a picturesque trail I like to call the San Rafael Ridge or in and around Sorich Ranch Trail, you’ve seen them munching away…goats and sheep hard at work.
The animals are grazing their way through five acres at the top of Ridgeway and will be in the vicinity until August 6. They are surrounded by fences that are moved every three or four days. The living lawnmowers just completed an 80 acre ‘all the dried vegetation you can eat’ smorgasbord along the Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow divide But, that’s only a fraction of the projects in store for them.
“They could be in Marin for up to a year,” said Elia Narayan, supervisor, Open Space Rangers. “A number of different agencies are using these goats and sheep…The sheep do a little more eating of the grassy areas. Goats eat the woodier stuff…They reduce the vegetation on the ground level that might ignite into the higher canopies of the eucalyptus.”
They are cared for by herder Luis Casimiro and his dog Brando. Although I don’t speak much Spanish, Luis was able to tell me that Brando is the ‘papa’ of the two pups, Scout and Tammy, who are learning to be work dogs.
Luis and his sheep and goats have the best view of anyone n Marin. On one side are the dark green curves leading to the top of Mt. Tamalpais; on the other is the Terra Linda Valley with golden rolling hills in the distance.
There is another herd working in the open space area. Herder Nestor Tacza is in charge of those sheep and goats.
“Luis and Nestor are great employees and have been welcomed into your area,” said Andrée Soarnes, via email. She is president of Star Creek Land Stewards, the company that provides the carefully managed grazing.
For those who like the nitty-gritty about our local four-footed fire preventers, the breed of sheep is Dorper and the goats are Spanish Boer Crossbreed. Star Creek Land Stewards, Inc. is located in Los Banos.
I love seeing these animals as I walk my dog on the trail and I get slightly anxious when they have moved to another spot, but I understand they have work to do.
Thank you for being here and doing what you can to keep us safer.
Goats, sheep, Mt. Tam and San Francisco fog