Sheep used to reduce wildfire threat in Carson City

Ellis Wilkerson, 2, "baaas" to the sheep grazing on C Hill Tuesday afternoon.

Ellis Wilkerson, 2, "baaas" to the sheep grazing on C Hill Tuesday afternoon.

The hills are alive with sheep.

About 700 sheep and 1,000 lambs are once again grazing 2,000 acres around the west side of Carson City, eating up cheatgrass and other weeds to clear out potential wildfire fuel.

The herd supplied by Borda Land & Sheep Co. in Gardnerville spent the last week on Andersen Ranch west of Ormsby Boulevard waiting for the weekend’s bad weather to pass.

On Tuesday, managed by Ted Borda, four sheep herders and three Border Collies, the sheep made a mad dash across Kings Canyon Road to climb C Hill where they are scheduled to graze for three days.

From there, the herd will move onto several spots behind Curry Street, from behind the U.S. Forest Service office to Voltaire Street off Clearview Drive, for about a week. Then they may circle back around to C Hill.

Sheep are ready for work in Carson City from Adam Trumble / Nevada Appeal on Vimeo.

Lyndsey Boyer, senior natural resource specialist Carson City Parks, Recreation and Open Space department, said the sheep shouldn’t stay in one place too long so as not to impact the land.

But due to the wet winter, they may need to put in overtime on C Hill.

“We’re anticipating heavy growth,” she said.

In the meantime, Parks and Rec staff will do what is called utilization monitoring.

About 10 cages are scattered throughout the grazing site. The sheep eat around them so staff can compare what’s left under the cages with the grazed land to see how much weed has been removed.

Staff will also walk the landscape to take periodic measurements of the undergrowth, said Boyer.

The city has been using the sheep for fuels reduction since 2006 on city-owned land as well as private property and U.S. Forest Service acreage.

People are welcome to come and see the herd, said Boyer, but the flock’s owner asked that people leave their dogs at home.

And sheep are naturally skittish so stay calm around them.

“Be mindful and respectful,” she said.

Sheep head up the hill from Adam Trumble / Nevada Appeal on Vimeo.


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