Reducing landscape fuels with the help of grazing sheep

Borda Ranch sheep are eating cheatgrass and other flammable fuels around Carson City.
Published: May. 5, 2023 at 4:29 PM PDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - You will hear them before you see them. On hillsides in Carson City Borda Ranch’s sheep graze helping in the effort for fire prevention. This grazing fuel reduction project has been in action since 2006, following the devastating Waterfall Fire.

Lyndsey Boyer, Open Space Manager in Carson City shared how this project works,

“We operate two groups of sheep, this is one group here, but we have a second band that focuses on the north end of town. The sheep can be grazing simultaneously and really target the cheatgrass and other invasives when they are most palatable.

After the winter Northern Nevada has had, it’s clear these sheep are already enjoying what’s to be an abundant grazing season.

Boyer continued,

“This was a huge winter season; all of that precipitation is going to lead to a huge flush of grass. We’ve already started the season, but we are going to see that throughout the rest of the grazing season. All this accumulation of grass will dry out in the summer and that will all become fuel, so they’re basically acting like lawnmowers, cutting down the height of the grass and making sure there isn’t as much as there would be without any treatment.”

Since the inception of the project, Carson City has also been monitoring the impact grazing has made. An enclosure on the hillside shows the number of grass that has grown and what it could look like if left untouched.

There are 750 sheep on the hillsides and each one of them eats about five pounds of grass each day, making a huge impact in the reduction of fuels.

Boyer mentioned the love the community has for this project, she encourages the community to always leash their dogs or leave them home to ensure the safety of the grazing sheep.