Goats complete appetizing week at Bear Creek Park
The visit by the weed-eating goats to El Paso County's Bear Creek Regional Park “went very well,” according to herd owner Lani Malmberg.
The 500-head contingent munched on the noxious weeds in a 19-acre area for eight days before departing July 9.
During that time, “thousands of people came down to see the goats,” she said.
The herd was on duty from 6 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. each day, explained Malmberg, who lived out of a trailer near her animals.
She, her herding dogs and her goats were hired by the Bear Creek Garden Association, which has weed-reduction responsibility for a 19-acre area buffering the 2- acre organic plot the county allows it to use off 21st and Rio Grande streets.
Because the association refuses to use chemical sprays, its members in recent years have either pulled the weeds themselves or, if they could raise enough money, brought in goats. This year, aided by a $10,000 grant, the association has contracted with Malmberg to come in twice (returning this fall).
County officials have estimated that the goat cost for weed control is at least twice that of spraying. However, Malmberg questioned that, pointing to less obvious costs on the spraying side (for equipment, storage and calibration of chemical amounts) and savings on the goat side (for long-term removal efficiency and soil betterment by stressing out the weeds' reproductive side and working fertilizer into the soil with their hooves).
Places where the goats have fed on weeds previously are now weed-free, she said, and pledged that this could happen again if she is allowed three straight years on the area where the goats worked last week.
The state requires the reduction of noxious weeds on public lands.
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