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Meet BART’s Cutest Fire Prevention Team

Adorable goats are used in place of fossil-fuel-reliant lawn mowers to reduce fire danger
By - posted 7/28/2022 No Comment

Bah bah BART… Grazing goats are back and reducing fire danger on BART property.

Though adorable, the goats are also highly utilitarian. According to Glen Eddy, BART’s Assistant Superintendent of Way and Facilities, Grounds Maintenance, the goats are used in place of fossil-fuel-reliant lawn mowers and other power tools, which increase the risk of sparking a fire on the drought-stricken grass and increase the safety of human workers, who once had to scale large inclines to clear the same – and very steep – hillsides. Goats are also naturally quiet creatures, thereby decreasing disruption to neighboring areas.

“Most people don’t realize just how much land and properties the District owns and maintains,” Eddy said. “Most of our rights-of-way consist of wide expanses of property to allow for a safety buffer and access to the tracks as need.  Almost all are covered by wild grasses and vegetation that requires maintenance year-round.”

Originally, BART would plow or mow the grass and weeds “as much as possible,” Eddy said, “but in many locations, there just isn’t room for equipment to get in there.” Likewise, performing such work by hand was “very slow and costly,” and worker injuries “is a real concern as many of these areas are on hillsides and slopes too steep to be safely cut by hand.” Poison oak proves an issue, too, but goats eat it happily as a “dessert,” Eddy said. Several areas on BART property are also “environmentally fragile” and require less-invasive treatment.

BART has used goats to mow its properties for about five years, Eddy said. They mow anywhere from five to 25 acres at each location where they’re grazed. The goats’ work typically costs BART about $800 to $1,200 an acre, and they usually work for about six weeks in the fire-prone summer months. Late-season rain events may require them to return to certain areas “for another ‘haircut,’” however, Eddy said.

BART has a history of getting creative with land and station management. Earlier this year, the transit agency began contracting a falconer and his hawk at El Cerrito del Norte Station to mitigate the station’s pigeon population. The falcon has been a hit with passengers – and has markedly improved the presence of pigeons on the property.

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