Doomsday for weeds! Hungry goats are coming back in July | SummitDaily.com
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Doomsday for weeds! Hungry goats are coming back in July

LORY POUNDERsummit daily newsSummit County, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk
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FRISCO – The goats are back by popular demand – or rather because they are talented weed eaters.Summit County recently signed a contract with Golden Hooves Grazing Services to bring 450 goats to work for about three weeks starting near July 9 by Giberson Bay and making their way to the Willow Preserve behind Taco Bell. It is a joint effort between the county, Frisco and Denver Water to take care of the noxious weeds, and particularly, Canada Thistle.How it works is that the goats, that live in Maybell and travel around the state munching weeds, will graze on this deep rooted plant. As they knock it back, the roots become stressed to complete the reproductive process and work to make that happen. So, when officials use herbicide in the fall, it is pulled into the stressed roots and more effectively takes care of the plant, explained Lisa Taylor, weed coordinator for the county.

Without the goats’ help, two herbicide treatments would be necessary to impact the problem, she added.According to the Golden Hooves website, “goats move through an area eating off the target weed while having minimal impact on desirable plants and terrain.” Also, they will eat the weeds at any stage and seek out weeds in dense brush.In Summit County, this will be the fourth time goats have attacked the undesirable vegetation, with the last time being in 2004, Taylor said. In the past, they’ve worked the area they will be in next month as well at the Blue River Inlet where, before the goats, the Canada Thistle was incredibly dense and waist high in places, she added.Another benefit is that the whole event is “highly educational,” Taylor said. People are so drawn to the goats that it “brings the weed issue to the forefront.”

The process to determine whether to bring the goats back this year began in March. Last week, the contract became official, and the cost of the project is $10,500, with Denver Water paying about half, Frisco paying $2,000 and the county picking up the rest.Rick Higgins, assistant director of public works for Frisco said, “In the overall picture of weed management, it works really well.”As the goats graze intensively, dogs keep them in line, nipping at their heels so they stay focused on their task and avoid eating desirable plants, like the willows at Willow Preserve, Higgins said.”It becomes like an attraction,” he added with a laugh.

During the goats’ visit, residents are cautioned to keep their dogs leashed and anyone interested in finding out more about noxious weeds can contact Taylor at (970) 668-4218 or visit the county website, http://www.co.summit.co.us, and click on the Weed Control link.Lory Pounder can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at lpounder@summitdaily.com.


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