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Subject:   Seattle City Light Brings Goats to Maple Leaf
For Immediate Release:   
9/22/2006  12:00:00 AM
For More Information Contact:
Betsey Searing (206) 386-1650


Seattle City Light Brings Goats to Maple Leaf

SEATTLE - Seattle City Light is bringing goats to the Maple Leaf neighborhood to help clear some brush and blackberries around the North substation. Goats have been used successfully in the past to clear brushy areas in California to help decrease the potential for wild fires.

Seattle City Light's vegetation management group decided to start clearing a one-acre area within its North Seattle substation, using a herd of goats from Healing Hooves, LLC, a natural vegetation-management company from Eastern Washington. The substation's northern boundary has been overgrown for years, and is now an impenetrable thicket of blackberry, ivy and Scotch broom.

"The alternatives of clearing brush mechanically or with pesticides were rejected," said Betsey Searing, landscape supervisor for Seattle City Light. "The slope is steep with large, irregular rocks, making it dangerous for people to safely work," added Searing. Mechanical equipment cannot reach far enough to do the job and it would require a large amount of herbicide to kill the vegetation.

Using a herbicide was ruled out because chemicals could be transported onto neighboring private property. Other problems include the dangers associated with a large mass of dry vegetation being left behind that could be a fire hazard, and erosion that may occur from a barren hillside.

Healing Hooves, LLC plans to use about 260 female goats and their kids in a two-phase approach to trim back the overgrowth. The first phase would bring the goats into the substation area in September to strip the leaves and younger shoots off the plants. The goats will come back next spring to eat the new growth before it reclaims the area. While they're browsing, the goats stomp down the dried canes and brambles, making it easier for City Light personnel to finish removing the brush.

A neighborhood meeting was held August 23rd to explain the program to neighbors. More than 20 people attended and were pleased with the project.

The goats are kept in a fenced enclosure and will not roam outside of the area to be cleared except as they transit to a livestock trailer. The shepherd uses a border collie to help herd the goats back and forth, and a portable electrified livestock fence keeps the goats away from the substation's electrical equipment as well as the street. The area is enclosed by a chain link fence.

If you have additional question, please visit our Web site at www.seattle.gov/light or call Betsey Searing at 206-386-1650 or Peter Clarke at 206-684-3602. A media event is planned for Tuesday, September 26th at Noon.


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