DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - December 28, 2007

Billy goats not gruff

Iron Horse Tail users treated to close and personal livestock

by Natalie O'Neill

They might look like goats. But in Alamo you can call them lawnmowers and weed whackers.

Curious walkers and bikers on the Iron Horse Trail have noticed tethered goats munching at tall grass and weeds.

While they aren't sanctioned by the county or the park district, nibble by nibble they are maintaining the trail - and even reducing the risk of fire hazard on a small scale.

"Some people have goats in their back yards that they use as weed abatement," said Shelly Lewis, spokeswoman for the East Bay Regional Park District.

She uses the trail to get to work and said she has noticed the goats out several times.

The animals likely belong to a homeowner who enjoys letting them out along the trail, she said.

Once or twice a year between April and July county trail maintenance crews cut the grass with a tractor mower. The goal is to keep it lower in the summer months to avoid potential fire.

Maintenance of the trail is shared by the county Public Works Department and the East Bay Regional Park District. For 10 feet on both sides of the trail, the grass is the responsibility of the park district. The county maintains the grass 30-50 feet beyond that.

In the areas where residents' property meets the county's right of way, property owners are responsible for keeping the grass and weeds down.

Other maintenance includes removing branches, dead trees and sometimes illegal dumping along the trail like trash bags, said John Pulliam, who maintains the trail through the county Public Works Department.

"We get a lot of requests from the public to trim trees back and remove dead trees," Pulliam said.

Another issue the county has had with maintenance is with property owners growing and not maintaining invasive species, such as ivy. Invasive species of plants can climb up branches, choke trees and ultimately kill them.

The Iron Horse Trail is 26 miles and runs from Concord to Dublin and gets about 20 percent of its use from commuters.

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