Keep the weeds down. Hire a goat.
How many of you remember driving down Foothill years ago, before all of the stores and condos were built and watched the sheep herds move through the area up to the hills eating all of the grass and dried weeds before they caught fire....Well now Chino has brought back the animal fire control beasts but this time in the gize of goats.
More than 200 chomping and stomping goats made their annual visit on Friday as they helped the city prepare for the fire season by eating dry brush......When open areas are cleared of shrubbery, a wildfire can be slowed or stopped because the fire will not have fuel......Grazing sheep have been used for weed abatement in the city's open space since 2000, and three years ago goats became part of the program.
Just west of Rock Springs Drive on the north side of Chino Avenue, the goats were guided on the steep hill in Rolling Ridge where they were expected to clear 14 acres of brush behind a neighborhood of houses......The goats were expected to satisfy that requirement by eating vegetation from where city property begins behind the homes to about 300 feet outward, otherwise if the goats were not there the city would be required to hire a weed-abatement crew and noisy machines.....The residents prefer the quite eating of the goats to noisy machines.
City officials report that the goats eating habits have already saved one housing area a couple of years ago, when a wild fire burned down to the area where the goats had already eaten and the fire just went out since it did not have any fuel to feed off of.....The goats continue to keep the area clear and save the city nearly $10,000, the cost of a weed abatement crew for just this area.
Pedro Indacochea, owner of Indacochea Sheep Ranch, contracts goat and sheep grazing at very low cost to the city....He said his 200 goats can clear about an acre a day, and he has never lost a goat to Union problems.
The goats are enclosed in a fence when they are not grazing, and a rancher stays with them day and night in a small trailer on the site.....A fire inspector for Chino Valley Independent Fire District, said the goats used for weed abatement are a great asset for reducing the spread of fires.....What the goats don't eat they trample down and mulch up, he said.....Either way it works good because you don't have the leftover dust.
The Goat Weed abatement program has worked....In the past 6 years there have two or three wild fires that have burned down to where the goats have eaten and the fires have stopped dead in there tracks.....Other cities, like Fontana, Claremont and Cucamonga are looking at sheep and goats as a cheap and efficient way of keeping the hill areas free of fires.
Gary Hall, the ghostpainter