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SDG&E launches goat grazing program to clear potential fire fuel

Posted at 1:42 PM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 16:43:08-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — About 220 goats dined on some delicious eats in the South Bay, as part of San Diego Gas & Electric's plan to cut down on potential wildfire fuel.

The utility company's goat grazing pilot program launched last week, bringing the animals out to clear brush and other vegetation around electric infrastructure.

SDG&E said the program will help reduce potential ignition sources around its equipment.

The utility company said it's rolling out the pilot program on a transmission corridor property in Chula Vista and considering other company-owned locations. A local land management company is working with SDG&E to staff the program with goats.

"This is the first SDG&E program to explore an alternative concept to reduce flammable fuels within open space transmission corridors," said SDG&E Landscape Project Manager Bill Click. "Among the factors being evaluated is reducing the repeated abatement sessions within a year in a sustainable manner. The pilot program will be in effect at various locations within the SDG&E service territory this year. Once the evaluation process is completed, an informed decision can be made to further implement prescribed grazing."

In addition to clearing away possible sources for a fire, the program also helps eliminate noxious weeds, promote the growth of local vegetative species, and can be used year-round for weed abatement without the risking of ignited brush, the company said.

This isn't the first time goats have been used to reduce wildfire risks in San Diego County. Last October, about 300 goats were used to clear brush on and around Cuyamaca College. In 2019, about 200 goats were unleashed in Mission Valley to clear vegetation.

Goats are capable of eating about a quarter of their weight per day, or some 2,500-3,000 pounds of food. Goats do not re-seed plant life in their excrement, further ridding the area they're deployed to of non-native plants or fuel for fires.