Herd in the Neighborhood: Goats Back for More

The Roosevelt/Maple Leaf Neighborhood’s favorite vegetation management team is coming back to Seattle City Light’s North Substation next week to munch blackberry bushes in a four-day cleanup.

The Roosevelt/Maple Leaf Neighborhood’s favorite vegetation management team is coming back to Seattle City Light’s North Substation next week to munch blackberry bushes in a four-day cleanup.

Up to 280 goats from Healing Hooves will visit the substation from Monday, Aug. 30, through Friday, Sept. 3, to remove blackberry bushes and ivy that have grown on the steep, rocky hillside since the herd’s last trip.

“Goats have been a creative, affordable solution for removing this vegetation,” said Betsey Searing, landscape supervisor for City Light. “It’s environmentally friendly. No chemicals and no dump fees.”

Seattle City Light has been using Healing Hooves since 2006, to clear the substation’s one acre grounds of noxious weeds that grow where it’s difficult for humans to clear them safely.

“The blackberry bushes are lush and full of berries,” Searing said. “The goats will be getting dessert with their meal.”

Neighbors love the goats.

Many who live nearby visit the substation to watch the goats or talk to the goat herder, Craig Madsen. They have even held an impromptu block party for him. City Light consistently receives many compliments from neighbors on both the clearing of the brush and the use of the goats in place of more traditional vegetation controls.

During their work at the substation, the goats are kept in a fenced enclosure and will not roam outside of the area to be cleared, except to move 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 entire area is enclosed by a chain link fence and isn’t accessible to the public.

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States.  It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to nearly 1 million Seattle area residents.  City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.