Last year, California firefighters combatted more than 13,088 vegetation fires. So this year, places like Merced are trying to limit the potential for flare ups.

Combating wild fires, especially after a wet winter, calls upon every resource that counties and cities can bring to bear. The highest-tech Database and mapping services can plot danger areas and help plan defenses. The lowest-tech goats can go in and clear brush and overgrown weeds.


Last year, the Merced City fire department colored in maps by hand to identify potential fire hazards from owners who don’t clear their property of weeds during the dry season. This year, the department is putting away the colored pencils and starting to gather GIS data. The city of Merced is joining counties across California that use GIS to track properties that don’t meet weed abatement requirements. The maps let fire departments get a jumpstart on intervention when owners don’t act to protect property from the ever-present threat of summer wildfires.

But the shift to GIS mapping doesn’t mean that all fire-prevention has gone high-tech. Counties continue to use tactics from homeowner education to dispatching herds of munching goats to tamp down fire risk through weed abatement.

Read the full article here.