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No kidding, goats return

Driving on the SR 125 through Lemon Grove people may get the chance to see goats working in the area near Lawton Drive and Camino De Las Palmas as for the eighth year in a row, the city of Lemon Grove in partnership with its Heartland Fire & Rescue department utilize goats to clear heavy brush to minimize fire damage and create a defensible space for homes in the area.

courtesy photo
Herders and their goats work to clear properties of flammable brush.

Since its beginnings, Environmental Land Management is once again providing 100 adult and 100 juvenile goats kids that started May 11 to clear the area of brush in an area where the terrain is too difficult for machinery and manpower. The use of goats in this process has many benefits for the City and the environment in the area.

Goats are considered champions in eating brambles, weeds and other unwanted plants. It will take about two weeks to complete the

“Not only are our goats able to reach places that man cannot to contain fire risking brush, but they are environmentally friendly as well,” said ELM owner Johnny Gonzalez. “Not only do they clear the brush, but because of the goat’s eating habits, they also remove invasive plants, supply a high level of fertilization in the area and do not reseed plants, eliminating the ability of invasive and fire producing dry brush to reproduce in the area.”

Other ways that the use of goats are beneficial is that they are useful in erosion control, steep and irregular locations are no problem, they can work in water challenged areas, they leave behind nutrients for a healthier soil, eliminate methane produced by compost piles, eliminate need for hauling and dumping fees, enjoyable in sight and soothing to the ears, less noise, and create jobs in a diverse way.

Gonzalez said Lemon Grove is a strong supporter of this style of abatement, starting with the help of Lemon Grove Mayor Mary Sessom and Heartland Fire Chief Tim Smith of Lemon Grove, who saw the importance of fire prevention abatement and the utilization of goats in difficult terrains. “This has now been a long-standing relationship with the city,” said Gonzalez.

Heartland said that fire abatement in this difficult terrain of approximately 8.5 acres also reduces the risk of fire and assists in the protection of homes surrounding this vacant property.

Since 1999, ELM has increased its production from San Diego to Orange counties. It has accessed and abated properties in Alpine, along the I-8 corridor and not only works with local city and county, but large commercial companies and landowners. Gonzalez said that due to its uncharacteristic approach, ELM received a lot of media attention when starting the program, continuously growing since in creating environmental conscious brush abatement, providing fire breaks and defensible space at modest fees throughout Southern California.

“All of our goats are set within a parameter space and monitored by professional herders and dogs,” said Gonzalez. “Our prevention has taken many forms from reducing pollution from heavy equipment, eliminating dangerous herbicides.”

Property owners around the work zone have been informed about the goats and guidelines for neighbors during the abatement period. ELM established COVID-19 standards for social distancing to be observed for the livestock managing staff. For more information regarding this site, visit To learn how ELM can help abate properties in areas that are prone during the wildfire season, visit

Source: East County Californian

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