Environmental Planning • Habitat Restoration • Biological Resources • Vegetation Management • Regulatory Compliance • Goat Grazing
23 Mar 2020
Laguna Niguel City Council Sage Environmental Group goat grazing

Goat Grazing for Weed Abatement Pilot Program Launched in Laguna Niguel

~ City of Laguna Niguel Civic Alert

Message from the City of Laguna Niguel (Mar 4): "The City of Laguna Niguel is happy to announce that it will be utilizing goat grazing as part of its Weed Abatement Program in select areas as a proactive method of fire prevention. This will be an effective, efficient and eco-friendly method of Fire Fuel Weed Control."


Featured Photo: (L-R): Council Member John Mark Jennings, Council Member Elaine Gennawey, Mayor Laurie Davies, Council Member Sandy Rains, Sage Environmental Group owner Alissa Cope, Mayor Pro Tem Fred Minagar.


 

LINK: Civic Alert

WHEN: March – June 2020

WHERE: Reef Park, Kite Hill, La Hermosa Park, and La Vita

CONTACT: Jerry Sollom, Parks and Landscape Maintenance Superintendent

(949) 362-4349 work (949) 795-1537 cell 

JSollom@cityoflagunaniguel.org 

MEDIA COVERAGE: OC Register

The city's civic alert provides links to FAQs and a MAP of where the goats will be grazing during the spring season.

Residents are invited to view goat grazing from hiking trails near the work areas during daylight hours. Heed the warning signs. Do Not Touch Electric Fence.

Currently, goat grazing is at La Hermosa Park. The city's webpage civic alert will be updated with real-time goat grazing locations once they are relocated.

Managing fire fuel weeds is an important part of reducing fire threat and fire intensity. In addition, it is extremely critical in the defensible space surrounding homes and buildings.

~ City of Laguna Niguel

~ Meet and Greet at the Laguna Niguel Civic Center

To kick off this goat grazing pilot program, the city invited their new weed abatement contractor, Sage Environmental Group, to visit the civic center ..... and bring a few goats!

Alissa Cope, owner of Sage Goat Grazing, and Carson Helton, Field Director, arrived with two adorable juvenile goats named "Disney" and "Rocky." The two goats charmed their hosts and were happy to be fed treats of hay and pose for photos.

This meet and greet was a great opportunity for city officials and others to learn more about the benefits of goat grazing for weed abatement and how the program will work as a fire prevention method at four sites on city-owned property. Some benefits are:

  • Natural weed control method that does not harm the environment.
  • Targets and consumes unwanted vegetation, leaving behind cleared terrain.
  • Helps the ecosystem to recover by removing invasive and non-native plants.
  • Goats graze large acreage and steep areas where mechanical control is not feasible.

We are the only environmental consulting firm that owns and manages an in-house herd of goats, which makes us unique within the ecological conservation and weed abatement sector. Our approach to goat grazing is targeted and effective in order to eradicate invasive, fire-prone weeds while avoiding desired native plants that are critical to habitat restoration goals.

~ Alissa Cope, owner, Sage Environmental Group

~ Goat Grazing at Reef Park in Laguna Niguel

The first week of goat grazing kicked off after a few days of heavy rain. The targeted invasive black mustard was thick and tall. The goats unloaded from their carrier and eagerly started munching away. They cleared a large area with ease, then settled down after dark to digest. The first two photos depict the weeds before and after goat grazing.

26 Feb 2020
City of Irvine State of the City Event - Goat Grazing Exhibit and Petting Zoo

Goat Grazing Exhibit at Irvine Civic Center

Invitation From the Mayor

 

Message from the City of Irvine (Feb 19): "The State of the City is one week away and we've got something special planned! From 3-6 p.m., our grazing goats will be on-site at the Irvine Civic Center, giving residents a chance to learn more about how they are being used to maintain our open space and prevent wildfires. A reception will be held at 5 p.m., followed by Mayor Christina L. Shea's State of the City Address at 6 p.m." Details here... and here...


 

Mayor’s Address Highlights Green Initiatives

State of the City 2020. Under Mayor Shea's leadership, in 2016, the City of Irvine adopted the nation's first non-toxic herbicide policy that requires an organic approach to weed control on city-owned property, including parks, sports fields, greenbelts and open space. Read Integrated Pest Management policy here.

For the city's forward-thinking approach, in February 2020, the California EPA, Department of Pesticide Regulation, presented an award to the mayor and others integrally involved in crafting the city's organic policy during a ceremony in Sacramento. Read press release here.

Mayor Shea's State of the City address highlighted the city's Green Initiatives with recognition during her presentation, displays in the lobby of city hall and an interactive goat exhibit on the main plaza. She praised the use of goats on city property over the past year and announced expansion into more areas of the city this year to assist with weed and fire abatement.

"Our goats are an important component of our non-toxic program," Mayor Shea said.

Media Coverage Orange County Register | Irvine Indy| Irvine Weekly | UCI New University

View Speech Video City of Irvine Website

View Speech Transcript City of Irvine Website

"It is a privilege to support Irvine's organic IPM initiative by providing goat grazing services for weed abatement and habitat restoration." Alissa Cope, Principal, Sage Environmental Group

IPM Award Mayor Shea and Ayn Craniun

IPM Award ~~ Mayor Shea and Ayn Craniun

Photo Credit: Leonard Ortiz (OC Register)

Irvine Mayor Shea Visits Sage Goat Grazing Exhibit

Photo Credit: Sage Environmental Group

Preschool Children Visit With Sage Goats

Photo Credit: Leonard Ortiz (OC REgister)

Irvine Council Member Anthony Kuo Feeds Goats

Irvine Mayor Shea with Sage Owner Alissa Cope

Irvine Mayor Shea with Sage Owner Alissa Cope

Sage Goat Grazing Featured in Irvine Green Initiatives

Sage Goat Grazing Featured in Irvine Green Initiatives

Photo Credit: Leonard Ortiz (OC Register)

Preschooler Pets Goats in Interactive Display

Irvine Agenda Goat Grazing Exhibit

Irvine Agenda Goat Grazing Exhibit at 3PM

Irvine IPM Initiative Poster Display

Irvine IPM Initiative Poster Display

10 Oct 2019

Goat Grazing for Fire Prevention | Fire Fuel Load Reduction

 

Sage Environmental Group specializes in habitat restoration and weed abatement. Our in-house herd of goats is an important component of our approach as a natural method of fire fuel load control. We support fire authorities, municipalities and home owners associations in Southern California. Unique in the grazing industry, all work is completed under the supervision of restoration ecologists, wildlife biologists, and regulatory specialists who manage all planning and execution of field activities. Sage is a registered vendor with CALFIRE and county/municipal fire departments. Sage holds a CSLB Landscape Contractor License, and Department of Pesticide Regulations herbicide applicator license.

03 Oct 2019
Seed viability in goat droppings

Seed Viability in Goat Droppings?

Sage Environmental Group is often asked, "are the weed seeds viable after they pass through the goat's digestive system?" "Aren't they just eliminating and spreading weed seeds throughout the grazing site thus defeating the purpose of grazing?"

We determined to conduct our own germination test to answer that question. Our herd of goats are an important part of our weed abatement approach.

We believe the weed seeds are destroyed sufficiently. A goat chews weed seeds then passes them through four stomachs in the digestion process.

Alissa Cope, Principal Restoration Ecologist, prepared and monitored three test samples as depicted in the photo.

First, she planted new native seeds, purchased from a grower, in new sterile soil. This served as the control to demonstrate that the seeds were viable. These seeds successfully sprouted.

Second, she planted the native seeds in sterile soil and added goat droppings. These native seeds also successfully sprouted. No weed seeds sprouted.

Third, she added goat droppings to the sterile soil, but did not include native seed. This was the determining step. Nothing grew from the goat droppings.

Conclusion, seeds are not viable once they have passed through the goat's digestive system.

Future Research: Sage is recruiting university students who are interested in participating in research. We plan to conduct a series of similar tests utilizing soil from a variety of grazing sites. If you are interested in joining this research project, get in touch.

 

30 Jul 2019
Goat Grazing at Quail Hill

Irvine Mayor Shea Hosts Wildland Management Event at Fire Station

Irvine Mayor Shea hosted a Wildfire Management Event at Fire Station 47

The City of Irvine Mayor Christina L. Shea recently hosted a Wildland Management Event in Quail Hill at Fire Station 47. Exhibits and activities included a Firefighter Hand Crew Demonstration, Goat Grazing, fire equipment, various information booths, and remarks by the mayor, the fire chief, and the police chief. Mayor Shea led one of her frequent trail walks. She was joined by a group of Irvine residents.

The Sage herd of weed abatement goats were in 2 areas: a large field full of yummy weeds and an enclosure where children and adults could feed and pet them. The goats love to help with weed control for wildfire prevention. 

We invite you to view enjoy this short video prepared by Mayor Shea and the City of Irvine.

Wildland Management Event Video

12 Jun 2019
Irvine Mayor Shea Visits Sage Goat Grazing Site at Bommer Canyon

Irvine Mayor Shea Visits Sage Goat Grazing Site at Bommer Canyon

The City of Irvine Mayor Christina L. Shea recently visited an Irvine Ranch Conservancy habitat restoration site at Bommer Canyon, where Sage Environmental Group was contracted to deploy its in-house herd of goats to graze invasive and non-native weeds during May 2019.

The site is located within Bommer Canyon in the City of Irvine Open Space Preserve. The Irvine Ranch Conservancy is implementing this habitat restoration project in partnership with the City of Irvine. The project is in an area that was part of Irvine's historic cattle operations that resulted in overgrazing and the introduction of non-native plants and weeds, which degraded the natural habitat.

Targeted, intensive goat grazing is being tested as a method to consume the weeds and seeds and prepare the site for direct seeding with native species. The restoration area will link existing coastal sage scrub habitat on the adjacent hillside with restored riparian habitat.

We invite you to view this short video that includes remarks by Christina L. Shea (Mayor, City of Irvine), David Raetz (Deputy Director, Irvine Ranch Conservancy), and Alissa Cope (Principal Planner/Habitat Restoration, Sage Environmental Group).

20 May 2019
Goat Grazing for Wildland Management - OCAEP May 21 2019

Alissa Cope to Speak at OC AEP about Goat Grazing for Wildland Management

Alissa Cope, Principal Planner and Habitat Restoration Specialist, will address the Orange County Chapter of the Association of Environmental Planners luncheon on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at the Irvine Civic Center.

She will discuss the benefits of goat grazing as an effective method of invasive plant eradication and fire fuel load removal. Sage Environmental Group owns an in-house herd of goats now working in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

This is unique for an environmental planning firm and an advantage to Land Managers who can rely on grazing activities that are planned and implemented from a scientific and regulatory compliance perspective in accordance with local conservation plans to prevent over grazing and achieve restoration goals.

 

 

20 Apr 2019
Bommer Canyon Habitat Restoration Using Goat Grazing For Weed Eradication

Bommer Canyon Habitat Restoration Goat Grazing

Goat Grazing for Weed Control / Eradication

Habitat Restoration Interpretive Signage Bommer Canyon Goat GrazingHabitat Restoration Interpretive Signage Bommer Canyon Goat Grazing

Sage Environmental Group is partnering with the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, City of Irvine, and UC Irvine Center for Environmental Biology to success test weed control / eradication methods at a designated habitat restoration site within Bommer Canyon on a multi-year basis. Before native plants can be re-introduced into the area, non-native grasses and weeds must be removed. The project area is located within Bommer Meadow, historically part of a working cattle camp. Livestock grazing and the introduction of non-native plants and weeds degraded the natural habitat over time, reducing the food, water, and shelter available for native wildlife.

Our scope of work entails documenting baseline conditions then deploying our in-house herd of goats to one of the designated areas at the Bommer Meadow site to intensively graze spring weed growth for several weeks. A total of four acres has been set aside for testing weed control / eradication methods to determine the optimal method that will result in long-term control. The methods being tested include goat grazing and mechanical removal (mowing). Over the multi-year project, Sage will document goat grazing activities in the context of Adaptive Management.

Success is achieved long- term through systematically and empirically testing hypotheses and assumptions, and incorporating lessons learned into transparent, adaptive, scientific” decision-making frameworks; and then acting on them in a timely way. We learn as much - or more - from our failures as we do our successes, constantly refining and improving our approaches. (Source: Irvine Ranch Conservancy)

The UC-Irvine Center for Environmental Biology (School Biological Sciences) facilitates research, education, and outreach in biological science to help develop innovative new solutions to environmental problems. Its goal is to apply science to conserve biodiversity in Orange County. Working in partnership with ecosystem and resource managers, UC Irvine faculty collaborate to conduct solutions-oriented research in environmental biology, and train the next generation of stewards of biological resources.

Come out to see our goats at work starting in the first weekend of May. Bring your family, bring your colleagues. You can view the goats from the hiking trail. IRC and Sage will use the Baseline Conditions and Monitoring Data to provide Adaptive Management documentation throughout the goat grazing effort in each project year. Information gathered will then be used to reevaluate goals and implementation methods; modify the goat grazing plan; and apply lessons learned to improve future results of weed control / eradication.

 

15 Jan 2019
Goat Grazing for Wildland Management Presentation Jan 17 2019 Sage Environmental Group

Goat Grazing for Wildland Management – Presentation at SAROC WMA

Alissa Cope, Environmental Planner and Restoration Ecologist at Sage Environmental Group, will speak at the January 17, 2019 meeting of the Santa Ana River-Orange County Weed Management Area organization.

She will describe her experience deploying the Sage in-house herd of goats at client sites in Southern California. This natural method of weed control is gaining popularity and attention.

She will speak about the pros and cons of goat grazing, the critical need to target grazing for specific undesired plants to prevent site damage, and how grazing can enhance habitat and grassland restoration.

Visit Our Goat Grazing Website Page to Learn More

 

11 Oct 2018
Deputy Fire Marshall Bower surrounded by goats and children

OCFA Open House Goat Grazing Exhibit

Sage Environmental Group participated in the annual Orange County Fire Authority Open House in October 2018. As a key component of Fire Prevention Month, the OCFA hosts a family friendly event at its main headquarters in Irvine. Activities feature live demonstrations, equipment displays, and vendor booths.

Our Goat Grazing for Wildland Management exhibit featured six baby goats and an information table. It was an exceptional opportunity to convey information to the public about how targeted goat grazing can be an effective fire fuel load and invasive plant management tool.

Hundreds of families stopped by the exhibit to learn how Sage manages the activities of its herd. Sage explained that targeted grazing is accomplished by setting and moving temporary fences; working closely with land managers to graze specific undesired weeds and fire fuel; making sure the site is not overgrazed; and assuring that native plants and riparian areas are not damaged.

Unlike most goat vendors, Sage is unique. We are an environmental planning, regulatory compliance and habitat restoration firm that owns our own herd.

The work that the goats do is managed from a scientific and regulatory approach. We target removal activities in compliance with regional and local conservation plans.

It is difficult to say who had the most fun. The children, the goats, or the "big kids"!!