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  • Writer's pictureCholla Duir

Fire Mitigation at the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve

Historically fire season in Arizona occurred from May through October. According to the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, fire season is now year-round, and humans start nine out of 10 wildfires. Last summer’s extraordinary monsoon season has created an abundance of dry fuel, prompting Borderlands Wildlife Preserve (BWP) managers to reach out to local experts to learn more about fire prevention for the preserve. Fortunately, the Town of Patagonia has an excellent volunteer fire department that can advise and help local homeowners and land managers.


I was happy that Patagonia Volunteer Fire and Rescue Captain Zay Hartigan was able to spare some of his valuable time to assess our needs on the preserve. As we drove, Zay pointed out areas of concern and made recommendations to provide easier access for fire crews if needed. The beginnings of a preserve fire mitigation plan are now in place with a priority to protect our neighbor’s property where fire could potentially spread from the preserve to property with homes. To achieve this, a fire break or clearing would need to be created.


Photo by Mark Stebnicki.
Photo by Mark Stebnicki.

Michael and Daniel McGuire of Fire Prevention Specialists (FPS), a local fire prevention company, were happy to help us achieve this goal. With fire prevention and sustainable practices in mind, FPS brought in local goat herds to clear a defensible space around areas of concern, like homes and other sensitive areas. The goats are happy to munch on excessive growth, and Mike and Dan handle anything left behind with tools such as weedwhackers. The difference is dramatic and ensures the ability to slow or stop a fire from moving through the area.


BWP area with excessive growth before bringing the goats for munching.
BWP area with excessive growth before bringing the goats for munching.

There are many resources for people to learn more about protecting their homes from fire. Here is a link to an excellent booklet put out by the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management on Firewise tactics and fire behavior in Arizona. Calling your local town hall or fire department is also a great way to find information and help create a safer space regarding fire prevention. We here at Borderlands Wildlife Preserve would like to extend our greatest gratitude to the Patagonia Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department and Fire Prevention Specialists for helping us make the preserve safer for all. ​​


BWP after goat herds cleared areas of concern.
BWP after goat herds cleared areas of concern.

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