GSA hires goats...no kidding

Wednesday - 8/4/2010, 9:40am EDT

Lorenzo Davis, Property Manager, GSA

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By Vyomika Jairam
Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

One General Services Administration property manager has found a way to save money, go green and complete an important landscaping and fire hazard removal job all at once.

The setting is Pasadena, California. The contractor employees were ideal. They worked 24 hours a day and didn't require any benefits - goats.

Nestled into the hillside near the 9th circuit appellate court and overlooking the Rose Bowl was property that originally housed a resort until the 1950s. After a rainy first half of the year, the hillside became overgrown with weeds.

"We have typically utilized labor, like most facilities would, having gardeners come in with power tools to go in and remove that material," Lorenzo Davis, property manager of GSA's 9th Region said. "However, through a suggestion, and actually we thought it almost as a joking suggestion, but we were looking for innovative ways to maybe address this problem. What we were able to find was actually goats to come and clear this hillside."

The extra overgrowth presented a fire hazard to the hillside and surrounding properties, which included the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and residential neighborhoods.

To see our GSA goat photo gallery, click here. (GSA photo)

"The goats are wonderful browsers, and so they're able to remediate all of the weeds and the overgrowth in the area without disturbing the grass or some of the more important foliage and shrubbery in the area," Davis said. "And they're very thorough, and they do it in quite a record time."

Before the contractor goats could come out, their human handlers first had to pay a visit to the property.

"It's quite an efficient operation. They come in, assess things, make sure that the area has been reviewed for any potential goat escapees," Davis said.

Davis estimates that 150 to 200 goats were called into clear three to five acres, and were able to do it within four days.

"So it was much more efficient than human power in this case," Davis said.

Davis's office made sure to reach out to the federal courthouse and to the neighborhood surrounding the property to let them know of their plans.

"The clerk of the court actually came out when the goats were dropped off, and when the goats were picked up, just to kind of see what the process was," Davis said. "There was quite a positive response from both the federal occupants and the community. They saw it as a great idea, an innovative idea of trying to address this problem, so it was very well received and we're very happy with the end product."

And the best part? A legal kickback from the goats: fresh, natural manure.

"We're not actually picking up the goat poop. One of the advantages of having something like this is that they actually are there to help fertilize the lawn, so we'll be in a good situation for that," Davis said.

To see photos of the GSA goats in action, click here.

(Also on Federal News Radio, read about goat landscaping in the private sector at the DorobekInsider Must Reads page.)