Goats Help Reduce the City’s Fire Risk One Bite at a Time

Wildfire season is in full swing in California. And while the recent Sand Fire in Yolo County is 100 percent contained, one spark can ignite the next set of flames.

Although San Francisco benefits from a mild climate, there are still risks of wildfires occurring especially around City owned facilities surrounded by vegetation. Thick and tall grasses have grown rapidly with the recent rains and as summer approaches grasses can turn into fuel for potential fires.  

To combat the threat of fires the SPFUC utilizes a special fire reduction team every year to help assist in the prevention of fires — Goats.

Goats grazing to reduce fire exposure at Summit Reservoir at Palo Alto Avenue and Marview Way.

The SFPUC hires a herd of goats every year for natural weed and vegetation control. By eating away the overgrowth of weeds and other grasses down to a safe level, fires are less likely to happen. Because of their agility they can easily reach areas such as steep slopes that mechanized equipment has a hard time getting to. Along with a goat herder and guard dogs, the goats can work at sites in the City 24 hours a day. Goats can consume four to ten pounds of vegetation a day and even climb trees for food. Best of all, they have a minimal impact to the environment.

Goats are relatively inexpensive to employ and, in most cases, leave the land better than they found it. Goats can help save people’s homes and, sometimes, people’s lives.

Goats grazing to reduce fire exposure at Summit Reservoir at Palo Alto Avenue and Marview Way.

The goats have completed work at most of the SFPUC’s large capacity reservoirs where there is typically large vegetation areas around the perimeter of the basins.  Earlier this week, the goats completed their work at the Balboa Reservoir. They will wrap up their annual visit around the CIty’s reservoirs at Lake Merced on Thursday, where they will focus their work at the Lake Merced Pump Station at Camp Ida Smith (site of Girl Scouts of America).