Valley Grown: Los Banos grazing business taking an organic approach to fighting wildfires

Over 3 million acres burned during the 2021 wildfire season. With many discussions on how to prevent California's mega fires from happening, one company is taking an organic approach. Star Creek Land Stewards in Los Banos using is sheep and goats to protect California's forests and grasslands.

Andree Soares is the owner of Star Creek, which she purchased in 2014. Sheep run in the family with her father also in the sheep business, owner of the Talbot Sheep Company, a family business that's been going strong for 101 years. But that's not all, Andree's daughter Bianca joined Star Creek after graduating from UC Davis in 2018.

Star Creek's approach to wildfire prevention is just one of the many tools to manage vegetation on the landscape. While things like prescribed fire can be beneficial, they can't always be practical. Grazing animals like sheep and goats can work the landscape continuously for a period of seven months and also reach places that can be difficult for people and heavy machinery to access.

Bianca explains, "our job is really unique. We're taking grazing animals that have been doing this forever and place them in urban settings. You may be use to seeing these animals in a rural community, but in a urban area like the Bay Area, it's not normal."

One of Bianca's favorite part of the job is communicating with the public and showing them how grazing animals can help save your home from wildfires. "When kids wake up and look out their bedroom and there's sheep and goats grazing in their backyards and then they learn that the reason we do that is because if a fire comes, it doesn't burn their house. Light bulbs go off and they get excited. It's really rewarding."

You can learn more about Star Creek Land Stewards on their website and their Instagram page.

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