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One-hundred and fifty goats took to the streets of Downtown Lemon Grove Tuesday morning, doing their part in a unique fire-abatement program.

In association with Heartland Fire & Rescue and Environmental Land Management, the company providing the herd, the city hosted the grazing event in an abandoned lot behind the Hollywood Video adjacent to the trolley station. The herd was contained in a gated area surrounded by vacant structures and scheduled for a grazing shift from 8am to 5pm. The goats seemed to enjoy the dry brush, tumbleweed and greener plants equally, but alfalfa is their real treat, according to John Gonzalez, operations manager for ELM. It is used to supplement their meals and herd the goats throughout the lot.

The goats help firefighters by increasing defensible space. They eat heavy scrub plants and dry vegetation that could threaten nearby commercial and residential property in the event of a fast-moving brush fire.

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Comments

Steve Terry Sept. 10, 2011 @ 6:37 p.m.

My wife and I saw those goats on Saturday August 20 2011 after some friends told us about seeing them. They were really cool! They went home the next day to Alpine, I think.

They had two dogs guarding them.

Oh and the shepherd was taking a nap in his truck (it was late at night) but he got out when he heard the dogs start barking after some coyotes yipped.

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Twister Sept. 11, 2011 @ 8:25 a.m.

Baaa! Waaatch Ouuut! Ask how much the government pays for the goats and what happens after they've decimated the vegetation, which is not always the dry, weedy stuff pictured.

Ask what alternatives there are of equal or better effectiveness at lower cost.

This may be a cherry-picked case (perhaps unintentional) that serves as propaganda for a taxpayer-pocket-picking scheme that seems all fuzzy and cute until one examines the details.

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tomjohnston Sept. 12, 2011 @ 10:58 a.m.

Laguna Beach has been using goats as part of its fuel reduction and vegetation management program since the early 1990s. They expanded the program afterthe wildfire in the early 90's that burned about 15k acres and 400+ homes. In Laguna, the goats work year-round and are moved from place-to-place as needed. It costs the city about $125k per year (which coincidentally is about the cost of 1 firefighter) So far, I haven't heard of any complaints from Laguna's residents over this "taxpayer-pocket-picking scheme".
Malibu, Glendale, Newport, Woodland Hills and Corona del Mar are among the dozens of SoCal areas that have used goats and there are at least a dozoen of these " Goat Brush Control" services in SoCal. The East Bay Regional Parks District in Alameda and Contra Costa counties have been using goats for fire prevention since 1983 and Sunnyvale, Oakland began using them in the 1990's. Goats like to eat thistle,Mustard, Himalayan Blackberry, Coyote Bush, Ivy, Pine and Oak Saplings, Poison Oak, Eucalyptus Saplings, Poison Hemlock, Sage, Ivy, and most grasses. It costs about $500 $750per acre to use goats, depending on the size of the herd. How much do you think it would cost to clear the land by hand? BTW, this is not even close to the first time that goats have been used as a fire prevention tool in San Diego county. My sister and brother in law live out by Miramar. They are part of a group of home owners who have had goats brought in to their neighborhood after the Cedar Fire. They had a big block party when they came in. Channel 10 did a story on it. At least 2 different outfits we hired out in other areas of the Cedar fire a couple of yrs ago. I know the have also been used in Fallbrook, Tierrasanta and Scripps Ranch. Not everything that happens in San Diego is a conspiracy to screw the public...just somee things.

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Twister Sept. 12, 2011 @ 7:39 p.m.

Goats are damaging to scarce natural resources, producing destruction and increased weediness in their wake, increasing, not decreasing, the fire hazard (ignition and flame-spread) potential. That various authorities are in denial about this popular publicity stunt does not change the facts.

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tomjohnston Sept. 13, 2011 @ 12:18 a.m.

This is contrary to anythingI have ever read. Please cite the source of your claims. That is, if you can.

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David Dodd Sept. 13, 2011 @ 1 a.m.

It depends on the terrain and the type of brush. Goats certainly aren't hurting anything in Lemon Grove. They can be damaging in more remote areas, where nature goes unchecked and unimpeded. The act of introducing a herd of goats in some places can actually increase new brush, as the normal act of spread of seed isn't artificially helped by the goat's rapid and random chowing down and then delivering nice piles of fertilizer and seed in its wake. Of course, the flip side is that where goats can do environmental damage, those are the same areas where fire is a natural occurrence every decade or two in order to maintain the ecosystem properly. However, Lemon Grove is not one of those places.

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Twister Sept. 13, 2011 @ 10:33 a.m.

You're correct--the goats in the photo are apparently in a fenced-in weedlot--exactly the kind of landscape goats leave behind. That's a job perpetuating activity for the goats, and the goatherds charge outrageous prices for the privilege of getting free browse from the suckers. They're not doing any apparent harm in the photo, but they will preferentially eat the tastiest plants first; if they are in a place where young vegetation is emerging that the pix can't show, they will eat that first--that is, they are selective browsers, and eat the dry weeds last. My comment was intended to be generic; to call attention to the fact that there is far more to the story than the publicity--that goats are a superior solution to fire hazard. That is a very complex subject, but it only takes a little common sense to understand that goats, often called "hooved locusts" have been decimating the earth for thousands of years.

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