400 goats arrive in Sonoma County to remove brush as part of fire-prevention mission

Bay Area

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — Caltrans has hired a herder and hundreds of goats for an eco-friendly mission to remove brush along Highway 101 in Sonoma County.

400 goats arrived to Sonoma County on Wednesday to help eat shrubs and weeds along a two-mile stretch of Highway 101, between Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg and Canyon Road in Geyserville.

Caltrans has worked closely with State Senator Mike McGuire’s Office, CAL Fire and the North Sonoma County Fire Protection District to try and create a firebreak before the summer heat causes vegetation dry and flammable.

The goats can consume between an acre to an acre-and-a-half of dry vegetation per day. They will stay in the area until the brush is cleared — estimated in 12 to 16 days.

“Caltrans Bay Area utilizes an integrated vegetation management plan,” Caltrans Bay Area Director Tony Tavares said. “Which includes diverse methods of controlling roadside weeds, grass and shrubs. Grazing goats can’t be used in every situation, but when appropriate, it’s an excellent method of controlling brush without using herbicides.”

“Sonoma County has gone through hell and back with these wildland fires, and now, emergency preparedness and prevention has become a part of our daily lives,” Senator Mike McGuire said. “It may sound funny, but goats are some of the most effective partners we have at reducing fire load.”

Temporary fencing will be installed to secure the large herd. A goat herder and guard dog will be onsite to control and protect the goats. 

No lane or highway closures are scheduled.

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