Goats At Work - Laguna Beach, CA
Four Legged Ecologists' Version Of "Let's Do Lunch"
by Rodney Robinson
Many people are unaware of the fact that not only are goats raised for the production of food and fiber, but they are also used to clear undesireable brush from rangeland, utility right-of-ways, and fire breaks around or near urban and suburban areas where highly flammable undergrowth is virtually impossible to control by mechanical means. For this reason, goats are beginning to gain a reputation as being ecologically beneficial, provided that proper grazing management practices are applied.
Laguna Beach, California is one such community to recognize the benefits to be derived from utilizing goats for brush control, and for the past several years has used them to clear dry canyon vegetation at the edge of the city, in order to prevent another firestorm such as that which swept through it a little over two years ago, destroying or damaging more than 450 homes and charring more than 14,000 acres.
In July of 1995, the Laguna Beach City Council voted to continue the practice of utilizing goats for that purpose, and during those proceedings Mayor Kathleen Blackburn proclaimed that "the motion carries unanimously and the goats will continue to munch away".
Within calendar year 1995, the city of Laguna Beach received a $396,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for its fire prevention programs, and brush will continue to be cleared through the 1997 fire season under the city's Vegetation Management Program.
Because of prior losses within the community which have resulted from fires, City Manager Kenneth C. Frank has deemed fire improvements as "probably the No. 1 public safety priority."
Livestock producers appreciate and applaud the Laguna Beach City Council for implementing such a fire prevention and control program, and urge other municipalities to follow in the path of those environmentally conscious community leaders. Therein lies a "Made In America" solution that is mutually advantageous to the home and business owners who benefit from such conservation practices, and to the American producers who are constantly seeking more innovative uses for their livestock.
Community News Focus; Laguna Beach, CA (USA);
"Goats to Again Munch Away Canyon Brush";
Orange County Edition., Los Angeles Times, 07-14-1995, pp B-3