Goats are coming to South Pasadena as a way to clear away the large amount of vegetation. Courtesy photo

The South Pasadena Fire Department is going to try something new this brush clearing season that has four legs and oftentimes a low-slung beard.

That’s right, goats are coming to South Pasadena to dine on the bounty of vegetation that has sprung up seemingly overnight because of the heavy rains the region experienced this past winter.

So Pas Fire Chief Paul Riddle did not know the breed of goat that will be coming to South Pasadena to eat its way to a clean hillside; only that the city may get the goats from a company called Rent A Goat. In fact, these goats may not have the ubiquitous beards because not all goats have beards, according to the website, modernfarmer.com.

“These rains again have been a double-edge sword,” Riddle said Monday after the Public Safety Commission meeting at the city’s Emergency Operation Center. “We have this growth. We are looking at every avenue we can to help mitigate that growth. One solution that’s very popular in other cities is the use of goats.”

The city is looking at using about 50 goats on a five-acre city-owned parcel at the Westside Reservoir near Glen Place and  Gillette Crescent, Riddle said.

“We have a goat company that’s going to come out in probably a month-and-a-half or so, time permitting,” Riddle said. “He’s going to come out and engage how many goats it will take to do that area and what the cost is of the goats and we’ll come to an agreement and I would imagine it would be at least 50 goats.”

The goats will be on site probably by the end of May.

The process is pretty simple, Riddle said. The goats are trucked to the site and do what they do naturally.

“The goats come in and just eat for days and days,” Riddle said. “They bring in perimeter fencing so they keep the goats contained to an area that you want them to actually eat. They eat the hazardous vegetation. It’s an environmentally safe way to help manage the excessive fuel growth.”

Riddle was unsure of the cost, saying this is a pilot project for South Pasadena.

“We are still looking at what the cost is going to be,” he said. “This is the first time we’ve used them. I haven’t gotten any cost estimates yet. That should be coming this week.”

Riddle also said that the department is always looking for ways to better serve the city.

“It’s another tool in the tool box, it’s another resource,” he said. “The City Council has brought this up many times before in years past and it was a decision of is it cost-effective? It was fire’s determination that in year’s past it just was more cost-effective to hit these specific areas by hand. Now that we have such a large area of hazardous growth, this is another means of helping to control that growth.”

So Pas Mayor Dr. Marina Khubesrian applauded the use of goats, saying the time is right.

“Using the goats is phenomenal,” Khubesrian said during the Public Safety Commission meeting. “We can actually now use the goats and put them in pens and move them around where we need to go.”

The goats are expected to be on the job for three to four days, Riddle said.

“The goats will be there probably on that acreage at least three to four days, sometimes longer,” he said. “And they just eat down to inches off the ground.”

Riddle acknowledged that the goats have been known to trample vegetation and that forces hand crews to come back and finish the clearing.

“It’s very effective,” Riddle said. “It’s very effective in large areas. Our unapproved lots are not that large but now that we have all this growth, we are going to bring in the goats.”

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Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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