San Francisco Is Now Using Firefighting Goats

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Author: Lydia O’Connor

Nestled between railroad tracks and a cement recycling plant in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood lives a little herd of urban goats with a big appetite for one of the only things that flourished in the the California drought: dry, fire-hazard brush.

Since 2008, City Grazing has been herding mixed-breed goats in the unlikely meadow and sending them on freelance assignments to eat up overgrowth everywhere from San Franciscans’ backyards to federal land in the Presidio. The landscaping goats are a green alternative to heavy machinery and pesticides and can easily graze steep hillsides, all while leaving behind a biodegradable fertilizer.

Starting last year, California’s driest year on record and host to the devastating Rim Fire, the company was inundated with calls asking about goat landscaping as a way to protect the land, City Grazing’s Genevieve Church told The Huffington Post.

“There’s been a definite increase in thoughts of, ‘How do we reduce fire hazard?’” she said. “When the number of wildfires increased in California in 2013, we began to get a lot more phone calls asking if goats were a viable option here … They’re the tried and true traditional method. Grazing animals have always been a wonderful way to keep grasslands and brushy areas reduced in that dry material.”

With triple the call volume, City Grazing decided to grow its goat family, and since January, around 50 baby goats, or kids, have been born into the herd and doubled its size. On Sunday, the company held an open house at the meadow where the public could watch a ceremonial “running of the goats” out to pasture.

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