Weed-eating goats to return in mid-July | SummitDaily.com

Weed-eating goats to return in mid-July

Jane Reuter

SUMMIT COUNTY – They’ll be baaaack.

The weed-eating goats will return this summer, county officials said Wednesday.

About 500 of the animals will again descend on weeds along Lake Dillon’s shores to further abolish weeds. The goats are owned by Lani Lamming of Alpine, Wyo., who travels the country with her weed-consuming goats.

Last summer, the goats grazed for two weeks from Giberson Bay to the Blue River inlet along Lake Dillon. They were part of a three-year program to eradicate non-native weeds along the shore of the lake.

“Even though we have a low water year, we’re still going to take advantage of the goats in some of the riparian areas,” said Paul Schreiner, the county’s weed program coordinator. “We’ll try to concentrate on the Giberson Bay area and the Blue River inlet.”

He believes they’ll arrive in mid-July.

“It all depends on growth stage of the plants,” Schreiner said. “We really want to try to graze these Canada thistle plants in bud or early flower stage. At this point, it’s anybody’s guess (when that will be), but in a drought year, their flowering could be delayed.”

As growing season begins, Schreiner also expects to see the results of last year’s goat work.

“This year, I’m fully expecting to see the areas we grazed last year a lot healthier in terms of grass stand and a reduction in Canada thistle,” he said. “Part of the job is to eat these weeds, but it’s also to eat down the dead plant material that’s laying on the soil. Grass cannot grow without sunlight, and that also creates a habitat for Canada thistle to grow. We’re trying to stress out the noxious weeds and rejuvenate native grasses.”

Based on what he saw last year, Schreiner is happy with the goat approach to weed control.

“I don’t have the tools nor the resources to go into an area like that to recycle the nutrients and stress those noxious weeds like they need to be stressed,” he said. “Short of a controlled burn in those areas, which is definitely not a possibility this year, that’s about the only way you can get in there and recycle the dead plant material. We followed (the goats) with an herbicide. I think between the goats and the herbicide we’ll see a huge reduction in these noxious weeds.”

The goats will continue this summer the work they began last year, Schreiner said.

“This year, we’re basically going to try to continue recycling that dead material that’s there back into the soil,” he said.

Last year, the county spent about $7,000 for the 12 days of grazing. This year, with the acreage scaled back, Schreiner said the total probably will be less.

Jane Reuter can be reached at 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at jreuter@summitdaily.com

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