Goats in Glendale

 

I like all kinds of critters (except for sharks – I know that they’ve got a special place in the environmental scheme of things, I just find them unsettlin’) but I’ve got a special soft spot for goats. It don’t make sense – likin’ goats and not likin’ sharks – but I defy you to come up with a shark that’s as cute and cuddly as a goat.Case closed.

I had some business to attend to at Glendale Community College and it was my good fortune to meet up with Johnny Gonzales of Environmental Land Management. Johnny and his team (150 goats, 2 assistants and an Anatolian-mix shepherd dog) were busy clearing brush as part of the college’s weed-abatement program, which is required here in Los Angeles County for fire prevention.

The college is in the brushy Verdugo Hills and every so often a fire rolls over. The last time was in 2005 and the fire department kept it from jumping the freeway, but the campus itself as threatened in ’64 and all in between there have been bigger and smaller fires in this area. Ain’t “if;” it’s “when.”

So I was real pleased to see two things I like –

a) preventative action and b) goats happening on the same hill and pulled over to take a look. Johnny has come up with Environmental Land Management [ELM] just over 10 years ago and he is incredibly knowlegeable about all things goat-related, environmental and land management/fire prevention. He’s really an encyclopedia and great fun to hang out with.  The goats

were busy creating a firebreak and removing non-native species from the hillside. Maintaining  chapparal isn’t quite as easy as you’d think – non native species like mustard, pampas grass and tobacco compete with natives – oaks, toyons and sage, sucking up a lot of the available water. Combine this with drought and a source of ignition and you’ve got a fire hazard.

Goats tend to like eating the non-native species first – evolutionarily they grew up in the same neighborhood and what’s too woody for goats the guys get with a chainsaw (it’s called confirmation trimming – not taking the plant down to the ground, but giving it a 33 degree v-taper) The reason for this is to leave an ember screen so that the canopy doesn’t go up.

Getting the goats to Glendale was a 4-month process and Johnny had to enlist the support of facilities director Dan Padilla who was the forward-thinking guy who contacted ELM, the tri-city fire academy, the City Council of Glendale, the Indigenous Tree Program and the Board of Trustees at GCC. Johnny’s company is based in San Diego, but serves all of So Cal.

This is their busy season – between August and March there aren’t any

ground-nesting birds to worry about and the nanny goats don’t have new kids. The herd gets moved around as they finish areas – they’re perfectly acclimated to freeway noise, chainsaws and the electric fence so they just do goat stuff – eat, take naps, drink some water, eat some more.

Kudos to GCC for coming up with a “green” solution to weedy problem and let’s hope that the city of Glendale has more work for Johnny and his goats!

 

 

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~ by ravenjake on January 21, 2009.

One Response to “Goats in Glendale”

  1. [this is good] Great post man. Mountain Goats are really cool.Nice difference in the work

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