Posted in Green ResourcesTall vegetation getting your goat? Well, the City of Stillwater has 'herd' you. The City has started a pilot project, with support from Langston University, that allows goats to eat unwanted vegetation in controlled areas.
Stormwater Manager Cody Whittenburg has been looking at trying this program to control vegetation in drainage easements for a while. "I like this idea because it's eco-friendly and may prove beneficial for managing especially difficult areas," he said. "Many other cities have successfully used goats to manage vegetation in urban and residential areas. Goats are natural mowers and may be a more efficient in certain areas than machines."
The first test in Stillwater focuses on tall weeds in a channel along South Ridge Street between Sherwood and Arrowhead Avenues.
"We selected this site because it's a small area and it's a challenge to mow. We'll fence off the area, place about ten goats within and let them eat the vegetation for a week or so," Whittenburg explained. "If it's successful, we may expand the program to other areas where weeds and tall grass is a problem."
To implement the program, the City of Stillwater sought expert advice from Langston University's Dr. Steve Hart, whose research on the use of goats for vegetation management is well known.
Last year the City began stricter enforcement of an existing code that requires residents to control vegetation in right-of-ways and on public property adjacent to their private property. Some residents expressed concern about mowing areas with slopes or rugged terrain.
External Services Director John McClenny said, "We understand some residents were concerned about safety, so we began to look at what other municipalities were doing, and goats were often the answer. Similar programs are being used in Knoxville, Tenn.; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco, just to name a few places. So, we thought why not here?"
McClenny said this does not mean the city is going into the goat farm business. Langston University will be supplying the goats and a guard dog for this project.
Whittenburg is contacting neighbors adjoining the test area and notices will be sent to all nearby households before the goats arrive.
"While researching the use of goats, we found other cities have reported that goats cleared unwanted vegetation quicker and more efficiently than manpower and herbicides," he said. "And allowing goats to graze is very cost efficient as well."