CHICAGO, December 30, 2013 - Earlier this year, the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) hired a herd of goats, sheep, llamas and burros to help maintain landscaping at up to 120 acres of land on four sites identified for grazing on O'Hare International Airport property. The sites included hilly areas along creeks or streams and roadway right-of ways that were overcrowded with dense scrub vegetation that is difficult to maintain with traditional landscaping equipment.
All the sites were located in areas away from or separated from the airfield by security fencing. The herd grazed on three of these sites from August until mid-November.
Central Commissary Holdings, a Chicago-based restaurant concept development and management company, was awarded the contract for this pilot program.The contract runs through the end of 2014, and provides for a maximum payment of $100,000 to Central Commissary Holdings.
Central Commissary partnered with Settler's Pond, a no-kill shelter in Beecher, Illinois that specializes in the rescue of farm and exotic animals. Settler's Pond provided 37 animals to assist with the grazing effort, and they were supervised by a herder while grazing on O'Hare property. All of the animals returned to Settler's Pond for the winter.
"On behalf of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, we were thrilled to bring this unique program to O'Hare. This pilot initiative is another example of an aviation industry green initiative that also complements the City of Chicago's commitment to sustainability at Chicago's airports," said CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino. "The use of a grazing herd provides economic, environmental and operational benefits for the airport and the community."
Similar programs have been implemented successfully at Seattle, San Francisco, and Atlanta Airports.
During the initial season, the herd focused on areas along Willow-Higgins Creek, which has long, narrow, and steep embankments that are difficult to maintain with mowers or other equipment.
Their landscape management services helped eliminate habitat for birds and other wildlife that can pose hazards for them and for the airport.
You can view photos of the grazing team by clicking here. The herd will return in Spring 2014 when the new growing season begins.