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LAGUNA BEACH : Fire-Wary Residents Eager to Get Their Goats

The city’s decision to use goats to clear hillside brush has prompted smirks in the past, but the munching herds have become popular with residents, so much so that many who live near open areas are clamoring for the herds to get busy in their neighborhoods.

“We would like to see the goats in our canyon this year,” Bluebird Canyon resident Patricia Turnier told the City Council this week. Turnier said she has been watching for the herd since spring.

But city leaders say the goats, now grazing in the Arch Beach Heights area on their way to the Top of the World neighborhood, won’t get to Bluebird Canyon until the spring.

“The Top of the World people want them there just as much as the Bluebird Canyon people want them there,” City Manager Kenneth C. Frank told the council.

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Two years after a firestorm destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes and charred more than 14,000 acres here, residents are leery about the possibility of another fire. And the goats simply don’t graze fast enough to satisfy everyone.

City leaders say the herd has been slowed somewhat by their lack of enthusiasm for the dry brush that covers the hillsides. The brittle vegetation is simply not as tasty or as easy to chew as the green grass that covers the slopes in the springtime, Fire Chief William Edmundson said.

“I think some people wanted them to move faster, and that’s because they’re interested in fire protection,” Edmundson said.

The city, which has been using goats to clear the hillsides for several years, now has about 800 goats at work.

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