Goats horn in on vegetation removal (article)

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Posted by GoatWorld on November 30, 2002 at 18:08:38:

Hi folks,

This article is kind of neat for me in a way because this is near the very same area where I grew up (at least for a few years) and started out with goats. Back then (in the 60's), this area was always a hot spot for fires - one year we watched from our place as the fires burned a complete path from Lytle Creek (just north of San Bernardino) clear to Malibu on the coast - the whole mountainside was on fire!

Goats horn in on vegetation removal
UPLAND - George Gonzales' goats are managing to have themselves quite the Thanksgiving feast without the benefit of turkey or cranberries.

Gonzales' goats are currently munching upon buckwheat, sumac and other vegetation at a 30-acre site at the northwest corner of Monte Vista Avenue and Arrow Route near Upland.

The mixed-breed boar goats remove vegetation from the property at no cost to the owners, the Montclair-based Chino Basin Water Conservation District.

The goats save the district money because it doesn't have to use chemicals or crews to clear the site, which will eventually become a percolation basin, said David Schroeter, conservation specialist.

"You're talking cost savings in the tens of thousands,' Schroeter said. "The goats have the potential of saving the district lots of money.'

The boar goats have worked to clear vegetation from the district's properties for more than two years. The properties, often filled with dry vegetation, need to be cleared to remove the threat of fire.

Schroeter, seeking to minimize that threat, contacted Gonzales after seeing similar programs using sheep and goats in surrounding communities.

Gonzales, who raises the goats for his wife at their home in unincorporated Chino, was happy to provide the service free to the district. He and his wife raise and breed mixes of Nubian, Spanish and Kiko goats at their home for purposes such as this.

The 65-year-old retired truck driver said he would eventually like to use the goats for weed abatement, possibly for senior citizens. Using them at the district's sites is a step in that direction, he said.

About 50 to 60 goats have worked to remove vegetation for about a year from the Arrow Route site, Gonzales said.

Gonzales uses guard dogs to watch over the goats and protect them from intruders or predators, he said.

The goats work much better than sheep at removing vegetation, Gonzales said.

"Sheep will eat plants down to the ground,' Gonzales said. "(Goats) will eat so much and move on.'

Since the goats began munching, the district has had no fires on the sites, Schroeter said. Normally, two to three would occur per year, he said.

By keeping the vegetation down, the goats are also helping the district when it comes time to develop the property, Schroeter said. The basin intends to turn the site into a basin to store water in an effort to restore the Chino basin aquifer, Schroeter said

Information Copyright 2002 San Bernardino County Sun
Los Angeles Newspaper Group

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