Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Healing Hooves

We own a house on Cave Bay near Worley, Idaho. Controlling the wildland fire fuels that surround our house is an ongoing undertaking beginning in the early spring, continuing through summer, and concluding in late fall. I've developed a close personal relationship with my John Deere line trimmer and brushcutter. It only betrayed me once when it apparently mistook an underground yellowjacket nest for a weed.

Two or three weeks ago we were driving in on Cave Bay Road when we noticed a slightly different appearance to a nearby hillside. It had been enclosed with a temporary fence, and inside the fence were at least two dozen goats. They were chomping merrily away at everything ground-growing except the ferns. We watched as they cleared away the ground fuel in short order. There was a sign on a nearby post that read Healing Hooves.

We did a little research and learned that the goats were an experiment in fire fuel control being coordinated by the Coeur d'Alene Tribe's silviculturist, Eric Geisler. Eric is also a Cave Bay resident.

Try as I might, I couldn't think of a downside to the experiment. The ground fuels are cleared quickly, relatively quietly (compared to the sound of my John Deere), and without herbicides; natural by-products are returned to the earth; and the entire process is entertaining to watch.

Please go to the Healing Hooves website, read about this imaginative and environmentally enriching way of removing ground fuels, and look at the photo albums.


Anonymous Thom George said...

Bill, I have a place in Cave Bay and in Spring 2005 I hade the FireSmart Program clear the fuels from our property. Is Eric going to be employing the goats to keep the brush down?

9:41 AM, September 01, 2006  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


I don't know. The goats appeared to be on tribal land, not on personal property. I doubt the Tribe would use the goats to maintain private property since that's now up to the homeowners who signed the FireSmart agreement, not the tribe.

10:19 AM, September 01, 2006  

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