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Flood risk? These goats have got it under control, county says

See dog herd goats from drone in Citrus Heights

Cesar Campos, a goatherder from Peru, watches over his charges on Friday, May 25, 2018, in Citrus Heights as they eat away vegetation in a water detention basin to improve water flow in flood season.
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Cesar Campos, a goatherder from Peru, watches over his charges on Friday, May 25, 2018, in Citrus Heights as they eat away vegetation in a water detention basin to improve water flow in flood season.

A herd of goats may be coming to a neighborhood near you.

The Sacramento County Department of Water Resources has hired nearly 600 goats and sheep to graze in and around water detention basins, clearing grass and weeds that might block water flow and cause flooding.

"If we let the grass grow, it ends up growing so high that when it rains drains get clogged and we get localized flooding," said Matt Robinson, the department's spokesman.

The herd is transported from Los Banos to clear brush instead of gas-powered lawn equipment, Robinson said. The goats are more environmentally friendly and less expensive.

The project will cost $30,000, he said.

On average, it costs $400 to $700 per acre for goats to graze, said Andree Soares, owner of Star Creek Land Stewards, which is providing the goats and sheep for the sixth year. The cost depends on access to water and the type of vegetation, among other factors.

Soares said the goats start grazing jobs in March and are primarily used for fire prevention.

"They are hired to eat vegetation in areas that are at high risk for fire, especially in fields and canyons near homes," Soares said. "They're selected because they're safe on steep terrain where it's difficult to get people."

The herd will arrive May 28 and eat vegetation at drainage sites at Arcade Creek near Evergreen Estates and Kenneth Avenue, then will move on to detention basins on American River Drive, East Stockton Boulevard and Waterton Way.

Molly Sullivan: 916-321-1176, @SullivanMollyM

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