PASO ROBLES, CA – The City of Paso Robles welcomes the return of the goats and sheep to begin grazing the primary firebreaks within the Salinas River. The herd will arrive Wednesday May 17, 2023. Grazing is an approved method as part of The City of Paso Robles Vegetation Management Program, for reducing the risk of wildfire. The city has chosen grazing to maintain firebreaks because of its effectiveness and low environmental impacts. Following the completed grazing in 2021 and 2022, the city saw a significant decrease in the number of acres burned from new fire starts within the Salinas River.
It has been an uncharacteristic winter for the Salinas River in Paso Robles, on two separate occasions storms swelled the river to flood stage levels, both requiring activation of the City’s Emergency Operations Center. The storms caused significant impacts throughout the city, and dramatically changed the vegetation conditions within the Salinas River corridor. The much-needed rain also brought with it increased growth of light flashy fuels, such as grasses and mustard plants, both once cured by the summer heat become receptive fuel beds for fire ignitions and increase fire spread if left untreated.
With help from the San Luis Obispo County Community Fire Safe Council, the city has been focused on debris removal and returning established firebreaks in the corridor to pre storm conditions. With the removal of debris complete from priority areas, the planned annual grazing of light flashy fuels can begin. The city is focusing on treating the most critical areas for fire protection first, then expanding out where possible. Grazing activities will begin along North River Road, progress south, and are estimated to be completed on or prior to June 25, 2023.
Portions of the walking path between 13th St. and Niblick will close periodically as grazing progresses through the area. Members of the public are encouraged to visit the area but be aware of the electric fencing used to contain the animals, please do not touch it.
Grazing will be administered by The Goat Girls LLC and paid for with grant funds provided by The San Luis Obispo County Community Fire Safe Council.
Jay Enns, Battalion Chief