Starting in 2013, the CDA hired a herd of goats and sheep to clear dense scrub vegetation on O’Hare property. The grazing sites include hilly areas along Willow-Higgins Creek that are difficult to maintain with traditional landscaping equipment.
All of the sites are located in areas away from or separated from the airfield by security fencing. To assist in the Sustainable Vegetation Management initiative at O'Hare, the grazing herd returned for the 2020 season with 55-145 animals including goats and sheep. Their grazing helps to eliminate habitat for birds and other wildlife that can pose safety hazards for the airport.
The initiative, originally conceived as a pilot program, just completed its seventh season grazing season. It is another example of an aviation industry-leading effort that highlights the CDA's commitment to sustainability. The 2020 herd has demobilized for the season and is expected to return for its eighth season in spring 2021.
The grazing program helps the CDA achieve many economic, operational and environmental benefits including: