September 30, 2014


One thousand goats are chomping through about 35 acres of pampas grass in a fire-prone marshland in Corte Madera, which is owned by the Golden Gate Bridge District. The area is just across from The Village at Corte Madera shopping center. In January, a 3-acre blaze, which began in a section of homeless encampments in the marshland, sent out massive plumes of acrid smoke. The goats will work the land for about four weeks, in order to reduce the risk of future fires.

The area has a perimeter trail which runners and dog walkers enjoy. An electrified fence surrounds the section the goats are working. Dog owners are reminded to keep their pets on leash. The goats have caused a buzz in the area. People have been coming to see them, and bringing their children for a look, since they arrived this past Friday.

After January’s fire, the Bridge District planned to remove the invasive pampas grass using heavy machinery and human labor, but rains forestalled their efforts. Once the land dried up, the work was delayed once more by the start of clapper rail nesting season. Now, nesting season is over, and the District has chosen to bring in goats, rather than machines. The goats are a better environmental and fiscal choice. The goat rental will cost the District about $20,000, while the machinery and human labor would have been about $100,000.

The goat rental came about as a result of a collaborative effort to reduce the risk of fire danger in the marshland by the Town of Corte Madera, the Central Marin Police Authority, and the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.

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