SDG&E Brush Abatement Goat Program Mitigates Wildfire Risks

SAN DIEGO, March 8, 2024—On March 8, harnessing goats' natural grazing ability, San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E) newest wildfire-fighting partners embarked on a neighborhood crossing in the City of Chula Vista. The four-legged helpers and their handlers crossed between grazing areas, garnering public spectators from the local community.

Goat grazing event in Chula Vista

Initially piloted in 2021, the use of goat grazing is a component of SDG&E’s Land Services Abatement Program and has proven to be an effective and climate-conscious method to mitigate wildfire risks, protect communities and promote a climate-conscious approach to environmental stewardship. Managed by experienced herders, the program strategically deploys goats to areas of SDG&E-owned transmission corridors throughout the company’s service area, clearing dry vegetation that could act as fuel for fires.

“Implementing alternative concepts to reduce flammable fuels within our transmission spaces is a testament to our commitment to community safety and environmental stewardship,” said SDG&E Program Manager William Click. “These goats are nature’s natural firefighters and thanks to their grazing behavior and digestive process, vegetation growth is decreased or thinned, reducing future abatement needs.”

The success of the program is attributed to the goats' unique ability to selectively target invasive and fire-prone plants, such as highly flammable grasses, chaparral and brush. Their digestive system also reduces or neutralizes the spread of seeds.

Goat grazing event in Chula Vista

Some environmental benefits of goat grazing include keeping corridors open, preventing the spread of noxious weeds and promoting the growth of local vegetative species through moderate grazing. Also, goats can be utilized year-round for weed abatement without the risk of igniting fuels in high-fire-risk areas.

The initial grazing area is within SDG&E-owned transmission corridor property in Chula Vista, Oceanside, and Escondido, while other company locations are being considered. A San Diego County-based environmental land management company has been hired to staff the grazing goats for the duration of the program.

According to Click, "The brush abatement goat program has been instrumental in reducing the threat of wildfires in our region. The goats not only provide an effective solution for vegetation management but also contribute to soil health and promote biodiversity. It's a win-win situation for both wildfire prevention and environmental conservation."

Goat grazing event in Chula Vista

As the threat of wildfires continues to increase, the brush abatement goat program serves as a model for integrating climate-conscious solutions to operations. Its success lies in the collaborative approach between SDG&E, local communities, and environmental organizations. By working together, they are able to strengthen community resilience and foster a sense of shared responsibility.