Goats gobble up unwanted buckthorn

Excerpt  from  Star Tribune article published 9/7/13 by reporter Laurie Blake

Link to video at Star Tribune

Flint Hills Resources has trucked in 130 goats to eat unwanted buckthorn on land near the Mississippi River in Rosemount.

One-hundred-thirty goats rented from a ranch in Red Wing are eating their way through a thicket of buckthorn on prized natural land along the Mississippi River owned by Flint Hills Resources.

The goats will roam 8 to 12 acres of the company’s property along the Mississippi River known as the Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area. They will do double duty: As they eat, their hoofs will work native seeds into the ground.

Great River Greening and Friends of the Mississippi River, two nonprofit environmental groups, were hired by Flint Hills to carry out the goat project as part of restoring the land to its natural state. The animals will be monitored daily, accompanied by a guard dog and penned overnight, the company said.

Working bluff land overlooking the Mississippi, the goats have about two weeks of munching to knock back the invasive buckthorn shrub, which crowds out native trees and plants depended upon by native animals, birds and bees.

Goats offer biological control instead of chemical control, and it’s a tactic becoming more popular in the Midwest.

Earlier this summer, Great River Greening worked with the city of Mendota Heights to bring in grazing horses to remove dry thatch and restore prairie vegetation in the historic Pilot Knob area. More: Goats gobble up unwanted buckthorn 

Pine Bend area after 130 goats feasted on buckthorn.