Starting in 2013, the CDA hired a herd of goats, sheep, llamas and burros 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 2015 season with over 40 animals from Settlers Pond, an animal rescue facility in Beecher, IL. Their grazing helps to eliminate habitat for birds and other wildlife that can pose safety hazards for the airport.
In 2014, the CDA expanded its partnership with USDA Wildlife Biologists at O'Hare in order to quantify the results and benefits of the grazing herd on airport property through a formal research project.
The pilot program is another example of an aviation industry-leading initiative that highlights the CDA's commitment to sustainability.
The grazing program helps the CDA achieve many economic, operational and environmental benefits including: