Team Rubicon’s Newest Greyshirts Ram Through Wildfire Mitigation

Thomas Brown

The GOATs of wildfire mitigation protect communities by chewing through fire ignition zones and butting heads with ladder fuels. PLUS: Watch the GOATs in action

Greyshirt goats

Billy is the youngest Greyshirt on a mitigation operation in Southern California with a brand-new team of Greyshirts, helping Team Rubicon protect vulnerable communities from wildfire. A danger confronting an increasing number of communities across America; according to the National Interagency Fire Center over 55,000 wildfires were reported in 2023. The risk is pronounced in the western United States, especially in California, where Billy lives and which experiences most of the damage. Team Rubicon has been actively assisting communities in western states prepare, completing 28 wildfire mitigation and recovery operations in the region last year, including Hawai’i. Billy isn’t the only kid on the strike team, they’re all new to Team Rubicon, although not to mitigation and they are chomping at the bit to help. Stripping vegetation and chewing up stumps comes naturally to everyone on this team and they don’t need to ruminate for long on the task. Once the Incident Commander unleashed them after the morning briefing, Billy and his team made short work of invasive species, overgrown grasses, and noxious weeds. These are Team Rubicon’s fire mitigation goat GOATs.

Billy D. Goat changing his socks at the FOB.

“Goats have been used for landscaping for millennia,” said Incident Commander Devon Miller, “so it’s not quite a ewe turn in wildfire mitigation tactics to deploy goats like this.” From Tennessee to California, using goats for clearing vegetation and controlling invasive species has been common for decades and now veteran-led volunteers are taking the lead. As two-legged Greyshirts saw down trees, four-legged ones consume dry and overgrown vegetation and chew open firebreaks through brush. More nimble than the typical Greyshirt, goats can reach usually-difficult areas to access and remove more fire fuel. Even more, these omnivorous volunteers provide a series of environmental benefits, from preventing the spread of weeds or invasive plants and encouraging the growth of native species to fertilizing the ground with their droppings. “These kids are great Greyshirts,” said Miller, “they really get shit done.” 

A Team Rubicon Original—Team Rubicon’s GOATs 

Watch the team of Greyshirt goat GOATs GSD. See the positive impact that interspecies cooperation can have for vulnerable communities.

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