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GSA Deploys Goat Herd to Save Energy, Money

The extreme overgrowth and underbrush on the hillside behind the Richard H. Chambers U.S. Courthouse in Pasadena, Calif., prompted GSA’s Pacific Rim Region property management to take quick action to avoid summer fires.

Ultimately, the choice was easy: Use a herd of goats. The decision meant a cost-saving to taxpayers over hiring manual labor and proved to be better for the environment than bulldozers.

The unusually wet winter and spring caused the overgrowth, which, in California, always means the risk of summer wildfires and grass fires because of tinder underbrush.

The goats are an efficient vegetation management tool, costing thousands less and taking three days vs. a week for manual labor, with few side effects. Unlike bulldozers, used historically for the annual project, goats control brush and weeds without disturbing the grass and soil. They also do not pollute or leave synthetic chemicals that could run off into lakes and streams or be ingested by other animals.

Before deploying the animals to the courthouse, GSA reached out to neighbors to let them know about the herd of four-legged critters.

“They were tickled and impressed with the idea,” said acting Regional Administrator Jeffrey E. Neely, of GSA’s Pacific Rim. “The clerk of the court watched the goats depart and said she’d be happy to see them back again — the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

GSA is using innovative and sustainable practices for vegetation management, getting a lot closer to its zero environmental footprint goal.

Read a report about the use of goats.

goat herd behind courthouse   goat and herd
The goat herd is busy browsing the overgrown hillside behind the courthouse.   The goat herd is busy browsing the overgrown hillside behind the courthouse.
courthouse area before   courthouse area after
 
Overgrown hillside area before the goats.   Cleared hillside area after the goats.