THEY EAT IT
Herd Nibbles Fire Break through Brentwood Hills
May 6, 2008
LOS ANGELES—Visitors to the elegant J. Paul Getty Museum wouldn’t be surprised to find pastoral scenes of shepherds tending their grazing flocks. But they’d expect them to be painted on canvas and hanging in frames—not wandering the hillside overlooking the 405.
For the next two or three weeks, though, that’s where they’ll be—steadily munching on brush in the hills around the Getty Center. The Getty has hired a flock of about 60 goats, which come with a goatherd and two dogs, to nibble away the flammable brush around its 110-acre hillside campus in Brentwood.
Using goats to clear brush saves energy, reduces waste, and is just one of the strategies that helped the Getty Center earn its Silver LEED certification recently. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and certification recognizes environmentally responsible design, construction, and management. In 2005, the Getty Center became the first facility in the country to be awarded LEED certification for an existing building, earning its Bronze certification in the first days of the formal LEED program. The Getty earned its new, higher Silver Certification this month by increasing its efforts to minimize waste and energy use beyond the 2005 levels.
Overall, the Getty’s efforts have resulted in a 33 percent reduction in water use for irrigation and a 10 percent reduction in energy use since 2001, for a total savings of $500,000 a year. In addition, the Getty recycles about half its total waste, including 357 tons of plant material, which is where the goats come in.
“The goats keep all the brush out of the waste stream,” says Lynne Tjomsland, manager of grounds and gardens for the J. Paul Getty Trust. “They prevent us from having to use chainsaws and trucks, plus they keep our guys off the steep slopes. It’s a safe way to do a difficult job – and the goats love their work.”
The goats are supervised by goatherd Hugh Bunten and his dogs Steve and Boo, who live in a tent on the Getty grounds during the weeks the goats are at the Getty. Hugh is there to keep the goats “focused,” says his wife Sarah, and also to protect against coyotes (which they see a lot) and mountain lions (which they’ve never seen, but there’s always a first time). The Buntens run Nanny and Billy Vegetative Management Company, an Oregon-based business that eats its way through the West every spring and summer.
“We all remember last year’s fires in Griffith Park,” says Tjomsland, who is mindful of the Getty’s obligation to clear brush on its hillside. “We take our responsibility very seriously.”
Fortunately, so do the goats.
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About the Getty:
The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.
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Visiting the Getty Center: The Getty Center is open Tuesday through Friday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is closed Monday and major holidays. Admission to the Getty Center is always free. Parking is $15 per car, but free after 5pm on Saturdays and for evening events throughout the week. No reservation is required for parking or general admission. Reservations are required for event seating and groups of 15 or more. Please call 310-440-7300 (English or Spanish) for reservations and information. The TTY line for callers who are deaf or hearing impaired is 310-440-7305. The Getty Center is at 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, California.