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Ecological Fuel Management

Ecological Fuel/Fire Management

Goats, unlike heavy machinery impact the land more subtlety, while impacting the fire environment significantly. Where a bulldozer may leave a soil break, that is bare soil, erosion will likely occur and flammable materials must be removed subsequently. Conversely, a goat will not decimate a steep and densely covered brushland/chapparal, or grassland. Goat management preserves soil by maintaining root systems and structural vegetation which holds soil. Furthermore, goats consume fuel rather than leaving flammable residual material. Managing a fuel break with goats reduces the volume thickness and breadth of vegetation mimicking the impact of natural wildfire, which historically has kept the fuel load in check. Through ecological grazing management which maintains and promotes proper energy nutrient and mineral cycling, fuel loads are minimized and spatial DISTANCES BETWEEN PLANTS are increased preventing fire from spreading quickly and burning at high intensity. What’s more is that endemic vegetation-- some of which is naturally fire resistant  {such as perennial native bunch grasses and some trees and shrubs) is promoted through the grazing process which encourages and allows native systems to become reinvigorated and to thrive in areas which have become overrun with invasive fire hazardous plants.


Diverse environments have unique mitigation requirements. Yearly/Seasonal Vegetation management of open space and interface zones requires a commitment of both time and resources. An ecological Fuel management approach offers a more integrative and efficient model for management, as fuel and ecology are linked. An Integrated Resource Management approach to Fire Mitigation identifies the dynamic processes, equilibrium and interface between human, wildland and ecology. Where fuel loads have become untenable and fire is most imminent, succession towards a highly combustible fire environment is underway. This transition from grassland to chaparral, brush and even woodland is indicative of a fuel environment that is more conducive to fast moving high intensity wildfire. As ecotones shift and vegetation becomes denser through the processes of succession, fire becomes more severe, and the ecological impact of wildfire becomes more acute.Treating fuels with and integrated model is the basis of Ecological Fuel management. Ecological Fuel Management is the process of reduction or elimination of combustible vegetation in the Wildland Interface, and the conversion and maintenance of vegetation to less combustible forms utilizing fundamental biological principles that underlie the vegetative bio-network.

The importance of ecological management in favor of traditional methods of management/ fuel reduction; which include a variety of treatments, including mechanical, human and animal management is fundamental.

 Fire Environments are dependent and related to inherent biotic systems. More simply, fire is an integral component of our modern wildlands. Fire is perpetuated by combustible vegetation, combustible vegetation is increased through the interruption of fire cycles, elimination of grazing activity and through endemic succession cycles. Eco-logical; the utility of ecological thinking in our wildland interface is manifold. As we understand and implement fuel management based on biological patterns, relationships, and fuel dynamics; we create fire resistant environments that protect natural resources, increase biotic viability and mitigate fire.