A recent web article on the Truthout website highlighted the experience of some Holistic Management practitioners with wildfire, and how they believe their management practices make a difference when it comes to slowing down wildfire. Alexis Koefod has survived four wildfires including, more recently, the LNU Lightning Complex near Vacaville, California in 2020. She believes that the fact that her entire property didn’t burn is because of their regenerative practices (no-till and holistic planned grazing), which she began in 2015.
Likewise, HMI Certified Educator and Holistic Management practitioner, Doniga Markegard of Markegard Family Grass-Fed in Half Moon Bay, California has seen similar effects on some of the 11,000 acres she leases in that area. A brush fire began on a neighboring property in 2019 and was spreading quickly. Doniga said that when the fire hit their grassland it slowed down which allowed fire fighters time and safety to cut a fuel break.
Key outcomes of holistic planned grazing is removal of vegetation that can act as fuel for a wildfire. Likewise, because holistic planned grazing can increase perennial grasses and forbs, there is more plant diversity that results in more green growing plants that have moisture in them, thus reducing a wildfire’s intensity. In fact, an article published in January 2021 in the journal Global Environmental Change noted that removing livestock from the Rocky Mountain study (a 62% decline in livestock was noted in that area since 1940) resulted in biodiversity decrease and fuel load increase because of shrub and tree encroachment.
Holistic grazing planning can also help with recovery from wildfires, using livestock to break capped soils and cycle nutrients. Matt Cherry & Shelley Piper of Trio Angus in New South Wales, Australia found they actually had 25% more forage after the Sir Ivan Bush Fire roared through and burned all 1,700 acres of their property in 2017. Likewise, the photo below, taken by Dick Richardson and his previous wife, Judy, vividly shows the difference between property where livestock was used to rehabilitate land burned by wildfire (right) versus land that has low stocking as a response to wildfire (left).