By Steve Tabor
This is an excerpt from an article published June 10, 2021 by Palos Verdes Pulse; www.palosverdespulse.com
The steep and slippery slopes of the Palos Verdes canyons and hillsides make it extremely difficult to clear away the variety of non-native plants and weeds. For more than 10 years, the city of Rancho Palos Verdes (RPV) and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy (Conservancy) have looked to the goats from Mariposa County’s Fire Grazers, Inc. to reduce the overgrowth and rid the area of invasive plants.
Michael Choi, CEO of Fire Grazers, says that goats are ideal for this type of work. They are extremely agile and can easily climb slopes that humans cannot navigate let alone perform this type of work to the level required for fire clearance or the removal of invasive plants. Generally, the goats eat all types of vegetation and a herd of 400 goats can normally clear up to an acre a day, depending on the year’s rainfall and weed levels.
During their time in Lunada Canyon, the goats will be consuming invasive species such as mustard, castor beans, fennel and nonnative grasses. In addition, the leaves and pods of the acacia shrubs are a favorite of the goats. According to Susan Wilcox, director of development, “The seed pods have high protein content, unlike most of the plants they consume. Watching them consume the pods, it seems they have a huge craving for them.”
The Conservancy is targeting the goats’ efforts on specific areas of Lunada Canyon. “Previously, riparian areas of the canyon have been replanted with native species. Recently, the Conservancy has submitted several grant applications aimed at replanting native species in the canyon. The goats efficiently remove the unwanted plants. They have less environmental impact than humans performing the same tasks and leave little material to remove. Even the goat droppings provide a natural fertilizer and help compost the weeds they consume,” Cris Sarabia, conservation director explained.
HOW TO ADOPT A GOAT
For the Conservancy, the goat project is funded through community contributions. The Conservancy’s major fundraiser for the venture is the Adopt-A-Goat project. Sarabia estimates it costs approximately $100 per day for each goat. Donors can adopt a goat for a day or an extended period. In addition to the regular donation benefits, Adopt-A-Goat benefactors can have their portrait taken with one of the goats on site. For more information about the Adopt-A-Goat program visit the Conservancy’s website at www.pvplc.org.