A herd of 80 hungry target-grazing goats came out Aug. 10 to help control a problem patch of Spotted Knapweed that is threatening the ecology of the entire Lois Creek trail system.
This particular patch of knapweed, a highly invasive plant, is at the west end of the Powerline Trail just above Florence’s Gully. Using an electric fence to focus the goats on specific patches, the goats helped weaken the older plants and control the spread of seeds at this site before they extend further into the trails.
The target-grazing program using goats was dreamed up about three years ago by the late Don Davies of Friends of Lois Creek, Cailey Chase of Vahana Nature Rehabilitation, which specializes in target-grazing using goats, and Laura and Jim Duncan of Mainstreams, an environmental organization focused on watershed management. Friends of Lois Creek formed a partnership with Vahana and Mainstreams, and the group built an integrated program designed to control the spread of knapweed and other invasive species that have been identified in the Lois Creek trail system. The goals of the program are to educate people about invasive plants, and to help make controlling invasive plants common practice with trail users.
“Hand-pulling is actually an easy task when paired with target goat grazing,” explains Chase. “The goats reduce the ability of the plants to photosynthesize and that stresses them, decreasing their competitive advantage.”
This is the third year that Vahana has brought goats into the Lois Creek trail system to control invasive weeds, and funding is now being sought to continue and possibly expand the program in future years to include target goat grazing, ongoing hand-pulling, and education.