Hungry goats help keep residents and businesses safe from fire hazards

It may be more of a familiar sight these days, a herd of goats huddled around, munching away at the weeds like an all-you-can-eat salad bar. These temporary workers are not obligated to practice social distancing like everyone else, but they are performing essential work that helps keep residents and businesses safe from fire hazards.

From now through June 2020, you may see goats used to remove vegetation on several sites to reduce fire risk, including Coyote Creek floodplain, Berryessa Creek, Guadalupe Creek, and the Almaden Valley Pipeline. These goats will eliminate dry grasses, weeds and woody growth – all potential fire hazards. As a component of Valley Water’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices, using goats to perform weed abatement is an alternative to herbicide application and mowing. As stewards of streams and reservoirs, Valley Water manages stream side land to preserve existing riparian vegetation, which provides habitat for wildlife, filters run-off to preserve water quality, and stabilizes banks against erosion.

The goats will graze along areas beyond the top of the high-water mark (creeks and reservoir) or along the borders of parcels. Fencing will be installed along the work area to protect the goats from any poisonous plants and to keep them off nearby properties.

There is little to no disruption to neighbors as goats are very quiet while they are at work. They are active during the day and typically asleep at night. Neighbors may notice a small amount of noise and dust as the goats are moved from one section of property to another. A shepherd and a trained Great Pyrenees dog oversee the herd at all times. The goat herder will provide 24-hour care of the livestock and routine assessments.

This work is part of the voter-approved Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program. The estimated removal of vegetation at all planned sites is approximately 23.5 acres and part of the routine maintenance Valley Water performs on creeks and water utility facilities.

Next time you see a herd out and about, snap a picture and tag us on Instagram or Facebook @scvwd. Bhhaaa-bye for now!

If you would like more information, please contact Marion Blair at (408) 630-2406 or at mblair@valleywater.org.

2 comments

  1. Question: Do these wonderful goats belong to a local goat Hearder/Rancher here in Gilroy/Morgan Hill area, in Santa Clara County or another County. How far do they travel to those specific locations? Just in Spring thru Summer & maybe thru early Fall Season? I’m sure they do a wonderful job. I’ve never tried “Goat Milk”, is it sweeter and lactose free, just testing?? I’m a former SCVWD Administration/Engineering Assistant, retired back in the late 1980’s, & in Sacramento at DWR. M. Reterink

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    1. Hi Margaret,
      Thanks for the comment and question. We have contracted with a wonderful company out of Red Bluff. We try to start in March and depending on how many sites they move between, finish up by June. They truck the goats down here in large cattle-type trucks and move them around Santa Clara County in a smaller truck (but one that can hold 100 goats.) In all, they usually truck down 400 goats.

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