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SOUNDING OFF:Manage goats better to keep natural habitat

I am sorry about the hyped-up-paranoia the goats and fuel modification controversy has sparked.

I want to remind those who have been vocal about this argument and who want more fuel modification that out of 1,900 letters sent in May by the Fire Department to homeowners who live adjacent to open space that asked them if they want a visit from the fire department to help them determine how best to protect their homes, only 15 returns have been received to date.

Clearly, this whole debate is getting blown out of proportion and City Hall and City Council should take a step back from all this fiery grandstanding and rhetoric and remember Laguna Beach today has never been safer from fire and flood.

Aggressive brush clearing in open space or wilderness areas would be an illegal travesty and so entirely unnecessary. City Manager Ken Frank and the Fire Department should abide by the rules and guidelines set not only by their own city’s general plan, but that of the Coastal Act and CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act].

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Since when are Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas worthless? No where else in the world does the big-leaved crown beard exist in this abundance.

Please think about that and think about the butterflies, birds and bees and small animals that feed off this native plant. These endangered native species and other sensitive plants must have a safe haven in our fuel modification program and deserve to be protected. Surely, we can better manage our goats to accomplish this?

I ask our city not to succumb to extreme fire protection because of the pressure of a few fearful voices, but rather safeguard our homes, our lives and our habitat by radically improving the poorly managed goat program that exists.

To destroy the integrity of our native hillsides in one badly chosen slash-and-burn decision would be criminal.

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  • CHARLOTTE MASARIK lives in Laguna Beach.

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