This Nevada Firefighter is Using His Goats to Recycle Christmas Trees

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Vince Thomas, whose family runs Goat Grazers near Reno, Nevada, has partnered with the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District to use his 40 goats to help recycle Christmas trees.  The trees, which people discard in landfills, or dump them on public property, otherwise becomes a fire danger.

“All the trees will be taken to the Truckee Meadows fire station in Washoe Valley, which has a lot more room for all them. Then, we’ll toss them over the fence and let the goats have at them. They’ll eat the pine needles and leave the skeleton of the tree. It basically looks like Charlie Brown’s Christmas with a scrawny tree that has nothing but the branches,” Thomas told the Gazette-Journal.

Is it safe for the goats to eat pine needles, considering the fact that it can cause miscarriages in cattle? “I did a lot of research on that, and it’s OK for the goats. For goats, it’s a natural dewormer, and pine is very high in vitamin C, so it’s healthy for them,” he said.

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Vince Thomas, founder of Goat Grazers, shows what a pine tree looks like after his herd of goats finishes eating the needles. (Photo: Marcella Corona/RGJ).

J Merriman, communications manager for Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful, told The Associated Press:

“A lot of people dump it out on the desert and that’s really a problem because people think it’s a natural thing and it will decompose. But because we’re out in the desert, they don’t decompose, it will just get drier and drier and it really becomes a serious fire hazard… The trees take up a lot of space, and you get charged by the pickup load. So, if you have big tree, then that’s a big pickup load.”

Discarded Christmas trees can clog up landfills and create fire hazards. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Christmas trees are a major source of fuel in a fire. Each year, US fire departments respond to an estimated 210 structure fires caused by Christmas trees resulting in an annual average of 7 deaths, 19 injuries and $17.5 million in property damage.


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