Goats Used in ‘Green’ Fire Prevention Munch-in

Isiah Reyes

As part of the college’s plan for going green, GCC prevented brush fires on the sides of the Verdugo hills by recruiting the assistance of an increasingly popular source – goats.

GCC enlisted 150 goats in the month of January to eat the brush on the northeastern side of campus. The work lasted about one week, and Glendale College facilities director Dan Padilla is satisfied with the outcome of the goats’ labor.

“It was overall great work,” Padilla said. “I was pleased with the way the job was done.”

Padilla recalled researching online for an efficient way to clear the brush. He soon came across Environmental Land Management, formally known as “The Rocky Spot Ranch,” which is lead by Johnny Gonzales, who has been there since it was established in 1999.
Gonzales explained why the use of goats as a fire prevention method is effective.

“They do a larger area quickly and the areas cleared by goats recover more naturally,” Gonzales said. “They take care of all the brush in a relatively short time.”

However, the goats were not rampaging wildly along the sides of the hills eating everything they came across. Gonzales made the distinction that goats are browsers, unlike cows and sheep, which are grazers who basically just eat grass.

“Goats are able to reshape the configuration of the brush and trees,” Gonzales said. “We’re trying to remove the brush from touching the ground so that they don’t become an issue during a fire. If the brush is high from the ground, it is very difficult for a fire to start.”

Gonzales also uses the appropriate equipment to get rid of the larger branches. However, he had to be careful on what he was cutting to abide by Glendale’s city guidelines.

“There was a review by the city of Glendale and the Indigenous Tree Program,” Gonzales said. “The whole community of Glendale has their requirements.”

Environmental Land Management is based in San Diego, but Gonzales mentions, “We work from Santa Barbara to San Diego and even to San Bernardino.”

Padilla refused to disclose the cost of the project, but said it was considerably less than the cost of hiring a maintenance crew.

The four-legged brush-eating creatures will most likely make another appearance at GCC in the near future as it does not take long for the brush to grow back.

“If you go back and look where the goats went through, you’ll see that the brush has already started growing,” Gonzales said.

Another reason the goats may make another appearance on campus is because Padilla and Gonzales had a good time working together.

“I had a very pleasant experience working with Glendale College,” Gonzales concluded.

To contact Gonzales or Environmental Land Management, e-mail them at [email protected].