When I was writing and researching my story on brush management yesterday, I found myself asking a few questions I never thought would ever come out of my mouth:

“Has the city been pursuing goats?” I asked.

“Are goats economical?” was another question.

Let me explain.

One method of brush management is to release goats to roam free on the land that needs to be thinned. The goats basically go through the land and eat lots of plants.

The goat method was mentioned in the 2005 report on brush management referenced in my story.

Here’s some of what the report says:

Goats are used by a number of other cities and counties for weed abatement and brush management in certain areas or situations, including the cities of Laguna Beach, Sunnyvale, San Luis Obispo, Escondido (State Historic Park Site), Los Angeles, Claremont, San Francisco and the Bay area, Berkley Hills, Menlo Park, Sacramento (Marina), Mill Valley, Los Altos Hills, Oakland, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and others.

It is generally thought that goats can perform brush management for approximately 25 percent to 50 percent of the cost of a contract crew, although at a slower rate per day. It is estimated that 100 goats can thin an acre per day if each goat consumes 5 percent of its body weight daily.

The 25 percent to 50 percent figure is interesting, especially since the primary reason the city has given for not meeting its brush management goals has been a lack of available funding. Remember what the mayor’s spokesman, Fred Sainz told me yesterday, as quoted in my article:

“Obviously, it is the mayor’s preference that effective brush management were to occur citywide,” Sainz said. “But the city does have limited financial resources, so we will do the very best that we can.”

I did mention the goat issue to Sainz yesterday. Here’s what he said:

“The city itself has never pursued it, I don’t know why, but we haven’t.”

Former Mayor Dick Murphy and Councilman Jim Madaffer pushed a pilot goat program in 2004, but it never materialized.

WILL CARLESS

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