We're not kidding! In 2018 and continuing into 2019, the City of Lethbridge will begin utilizing the power of goats to help control invasive weeds and cut back overgrown brush in select areas of our river valley parks. The use of these animals is part of a pilot program to look at the practicality of targeted grazing. The grazing will help to encourage biodiversity, encourage the healthy growth of native vegetation and enhance the overall health of the area.
The goals of this project include:
- Reduce brush and vegetation volume near pathways.
- Reduce invasive weeds and their spread throughout the park.
Why Targeted Grazing?
- Long before people settled here, the plains including river valley areas were grazed by bison, deer and other ungulates, keeping vegetation growth in check.
- Research and best practices show that grazing is both an environmentally friendly and cost effective method to managing weeds, grassfire risk and the overall ecosystem health.
- It is a chemical free way to control weeds.
- Goats prefer broad leaf and flowering weeds and can target the particular species of invasive vegetation that we are looking to control, namely leafy spurge, Canada and nodding thistle, and several knapweed species.
- Goats tend to really grind their food and their stomachs are highly acidic, therefore their digestive system will destroy any seeds that pass through their systems.
- They are nimble! Many areas where invasive weeds are found in our river valley are along steep slopes and tricky terrain. The goats have no problem climbing and getting into those hard to reach places!
- Goat droppings fertilize the soil and their hooves work the soil, helping to till and aerate the ground.
Why Start in October?
We chose to begin this project in October to get the logistics of working with several hundred goofy animals worked out. We'll also find out what constraints and issues we may have and come up with solutions before we embark on a more intensive program next summer. Fall grazing in Cottonwood Park will reduce the height of overgrown vegetation and increase sight lines along pathways.
Parks Natural Resource Coordinator
403 320 3108