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Brush for Brunch:
One answer for wildfires, no kidding, is goats.

Julie Maxey-Allison | 10th Street

Anna Sohn and Phil the Kid.
Photo courtesy Anna Sohn.

The threat of a wildfire sparking is a constant concern and it is always the right time to clear overgrown and dead vegetation. Although neither the City of Del Mar nor the City of San Diego employ goats in land management for fire protection, the cities of Laguna Beach, Anaheim and Lemon Grove do and have for some time. Laguna Beach Fire Marshall James Brown reports “We have been using goats for fuel modification since 1991, and they are a very important component of our wild land fire prevention program. Currently we have three herds working in the city, with a fourth one coming.” Anaheim goats Chewy, Spot, Pokey, and Peggy and others, often named by residents, work to clear vegetation as part of the city’s fire prevention plan. The City of Lemon Grove has hired goats for the last eight years in conjunction with Heartland Fire and Rescue and the Environmental Land Management company to “clear a sizable parcel of land in Lemon Grove that includes a canyon with residential houses at the top, along the ridge line. Around 200 goats are released on the site, divided into smaller sections, to remove the brush fire fuel,” reports Elette Nash, Fire Marshall of Heartland Fire and Rescue. “The goats clear a defensible space against wildfires, protecting the surrounding residential neighborhood. Goats, environmentally friendly, do not disturb the soil, so there is less erosion to pollute the watershed. Goats are able to access parcels of land with steep terrain that would otherwise require hand cutting of fuel zones.”

A herd of goats munching brush.
Photos Heartland Fire Inspector II Frankie Rodriguez

Our Crest Canyon may not be a likely spot for goats to go to work. Del Mar Fire Marshal Hans Schmidt reports the area “contains sensitive habitat and any type of mitigation has to be permitted through the California Department of Fish and Game.” However, he adds, private property owners can hire goats (there are goat herd suppliers) to munch away unwanted foliage for fire prevention where permitted. By whatever ways, Fire Marshal Schmidt asks that you clear weeds, brush, and dead foliage to help keep your property and neighborhood safe. Questions? You can schedule a free inspection from the Fire Department, including properties along the canyon, to identify hazards and get guidance on how to deal with them at weedabatement@delmar.ca.us or 858-755-1522. That extra green waste can be picked free between July 27 and August 10 if you reserve up to two three-yard waste bins now through July 24. Contact Waste Management: 866-967-3292.

Two goats munching brush.
Photos Heartland Fire Inspector II Frankie Rodriguez.

Whether or not you choose to use goats to chomp through your excess foliage, you can have not one but two miniature goats (herd animals need each other for company) as pets. Delmarian Anna Sohn, a sophomore at Francis Parker School, does. A member of the Olivenhain Valley 4-H Club, she is active in introducing children to animals and has shown her goats at the San Diego County Fair. This year her goats Star and Comet, mini silky fainting goats, hosted Pearl, a miniature Nigerian goat who gave birth to Phil with Anna attending. Quite the kid. Both Pearl and Phil have moved on to new homes.



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