For the first time, California public power utility SMUD has found an innovative ally in its fire risk reduction efforts – goats.
SMUD has contracted with a company to supply nearly 400 goats that are reducing vegetation along its transmission line corridors in Sacramento County. The goats provide a safe and environmentally sustainable service while also reducing costs and improving safety in SMUD’s community.
Goat have four stomachs, making it easy for them to consume and digest tough roughage and brush in hard-to-reach terrain. The goats can consume 2-3 acres of vegetation a day before they are moved to a new location.
SMUD has a Right of Way Stewardship Accreditation that requires ongoing reaccreditation, environmental stewardship goals, and operational targets that will all benefit from using Integrated Vegetation Management across its system. Utilizing livestock is one of many tools that are executed to provide safe, reliable, and affordable energy to SMUD’s communities.
As part of the utility’s ongoing maintenance (vegetation management work), the goats will move around SMUD’s service territory to reduce vegetation, create fuel breaks and mitigate potential fire risk. SMUD’s territory is mainly urban and considered lower risk, however, it does have transmission lines through open space and rural areas that require weed abatement.
The goats are carefully guarded by two Anatolian Shepherds named Heidi and Ricki. According to the goat’s owners, Capra Environmental Services Corp., benefits of using goats for vegetation management include preserving the integrity of the land and wildlife on it, reducing the use of herbicides, natural fertilization of land, reducing safety risk from humans and machines having to reach dangerous terrain, and community enjoyment.
SMUD will continue to use and explore additional opportunities for livestock grazing on its system. Going forward, site grazing is expected to start in the spring.
To learn more about SMUD’s wildfire mitigation plan, visit SMUD.org/WildfireSafety.