On Carson City’s ‘C Hill,’ sheep reduce risk of fire the natural way

Shannon Litz/Nevada Appeal

Shannon Litz/Nevada Appeal

Fire prevention on Carson City’s west side is getting its annual boost from sheep.

There were 780 sheep and 900 lambs crossing Kings Canyon Road on Friday morning from the Anderson Ranch to the north of Kings Canyon, once part of the old Lincoln Highway. The flock headed south to the west side of the city’s “C Hill.”

“They are now on ‘C Hill’s’ back side,” said Ann Bollinger, natural resources specialist with the Carson City Open Space Program in the Parks and Recreation Department.

“Probably next week we’ll move them around to the front,” she said, which would bring the flock east and provide residents with the annual spring chorus of “baaah” crooning in their nearby neighborhoods.

“The sheep are helping us manage fine fuels,” said Bollinger, describing them as grasses that would provide fuel for wildfires should they not get cropped regularly. She said cheat grass, now green, is a prime target. The sheep like it that way, she said.

The first such grazing program was conducted by the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension in 1999, Bollinger said, and it wasn’t repeated until a few years later.

Data was collected in 1999, including how much the sheep ate, she said.

Bollinger said she has been told that after a raging wildfire threatened the city’s west side in 2004, it was slowed when it hit the area where the sheep had grazed in 1999.

Grazing under the auspices of Carson City’s Open Space Program began in 2006 to reduce fire hazards, and it’s now is in its eighth year, Bollinger said.

She said she went out to Kings Canyon on Friday to watch the transfer of the flock, helping while there to stop and direct traffic during the crossing. She also took pictures.

Bollinger noted that residents are welcome to go see the sheep and lambs grazing this spring, but are asked not to bring along pets because of guard dogs tending the flock.


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