The Chicago Department of Aviation has welcomed the return of a herd of grazing animals to manage natural vegetation at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
The grazing herd – comprised of a mix of 30 goats, sheep, and a donkey – will be at the airport for coming weeks to manage vegetation, such as tall grasses, on 16 acres (6.5ha) of land on the west side of the airfield.
The herd provides an eco-friendly means of clearing overgrown and invasive vegetation by reducing natural vegetation harboring wildlife near runways, which could impact aircraft during take-off; eliminating air pollution otherwise caused by a lawn mower; and delivering a sustainable means for maintaining essential green space and safe conditions near the airfield.
The grazing herd, made possible through consultation with the US Department of Agriculture, will be on hand through autumn or until the vegetation is fully cleared.
The Chicago Department of Aviation’s sustainability programs, including new sustainable infrastructure installed since 2011, align with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s vision and leadership in making Chicago the most sustainable city in the country. These investments have reduced electricity and natural gas usage to make Chicago’s aviation system more environmentally friendly.