Project Sheep for Wildfire Recovery
The Lodgepole Complex fire of 2017 was the largest in-state burn in Montana’s history. The fire destroyed vast areas of pastureland and devastated farmers and ranchers in Montana. One crucial recovery need after the fire is aggressive noxious weed intervention on the 270,723 acre burn zone. Some ranches that were impacted by the Lodgepole Complex Fire have begun weed abatement by using sheep, known as Project Sheep on Weeds. Kelly Witt retained the herd (pictured here) on his ranch throughout the winter months. Other ranchers will receive their sheep for the season in April and May. The dogs seen in the photo protect the sheep from predators while the herder oversees the herd, watching for predators and monitoring the overall condition of the sheep.
The Garfield County Fire Foundation received a grant from the Midwest Early Recovery Fund to support their work, including hiring a community recovery coordinator, collaborating and partnering to maximize sheep/goat weed intervention, as well as education, training and outreach in response to wildfires in Montana.