Livermore, CA (April 4, 2022) — Zone 7 has begun its annual fire prevention maintenance program along the flood protection channels it maintains. In addition to maintaining the channel facilities for flood activities, removing downed trees, and conducting regular inspections of the channels to ensure they’re in working order, the Agency is also tasked with fire prevention activities.
The channel mowing program, which commenced April 4, began in eastern Livermore, and will work its way through the city, then moving on to Pleasanton and finishing in Dublin. Mowing is expected to be completed by June 15. After that, the Agency will continue its monitoring program and repeat mowing or goat grazing where vegetation has grown back in.
Zone 7 utilizes an integrated vegetation management plan with diverse methods of controlling weeds, grass, and shrubs alongside its flood protection channels, which in some areas also serve as recreational trails for residents to enjoy through partnership agreements with local cities and park districts. While these trails provide benefits to the community, they also pose the highest risk for potential for ignition, making vegetation management critical.
California is experiencing longer wildfire seasons as a direct result of Climate Change. Dry conditions from a lack of rain in January, February, and March, coupled with increased temperatures will leave fuel moisture levels lower than normal increasing the potential for wildland fire activity.
To keep the community safe and habitats protected, Zone 7 collaborates with fire officials, environmental regulators, and wildlife experts to balance fire mitigation with habitat creation in the riparian (natural) channels.
The Agency started the first phase of fire prevention activities today with the mowing of the channels from the top of bank to approximately 8-10 ft into the channel to minimize fire ignition hazards. This channel mowing methodology is considered an effective fire mitigation strategy for the channels by Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department.
The channel mowing minimizes the amount of fuel that can be ignited and gives firefighters time to respond and extinguish before larger fuels are ignited. The shorter length on the grass makes it so that the fire does not flame, it just smolders which slows down the spread of fire.
Following a successful pilot program, the Agency now has additional tool in its toolbelt for preventing fires and keeping the channels maintained — a herd of very hungry goats.
Goats are particularly useful in fire prevention as they eat “high and low,” meaning that they graze along both along the ground and reach into up to 6 feet into the trees and bushes for various vegetation. And they’re not picky — ragweed, poison oak, thistles, even thorny vines like blackberry are all on the menu for the goats. They easily control brush and create an effective fire break, clearing the lower lying brush and branches of trees, all without disturbing the soil or leaving behind pesticides.
Agile climbers, they can easily make their way up and down the slopes of the channels, getting to places where the mowers or staff can’t safely access. The goats are expected to report to duty within the next two weeks and will be focusing on areas that heavily vegetated and more difficult to access, making their way throughout the channels in the service area as they’re needed.
For more information on how Zone 7 works to maintain the flood protection system visit https://zone7water.report/flood-protection.