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 2019 season with 30-50 animals including sheep and goats. 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 sixth season grazing season. It is another example of an aviation industry-leading effort that highlights the CDA's commitment to sustainability. The 2019 herd has demobilized for the season and is expected to return for their seventh season in early summer 2020.
The grazing program helps the CDA achieve many economic, operational and environmental benefits including: