“I have been following this for years from a natural land management perspective,” County Parks Natural Resources Coordinator Melanie Manion said. “When I saw what a strong agriculture community we had, I said it was a win-win.”
Parks officials plan to start the goat initiative in May, and expect the program to last several months.
“It’s still a bit of a novelty,” Manion said. “There’s no one in Michigan that is doing this. We’re doing this project to see the pros and cons with it.”
Goats will be used at three county properties: Bur Oak, Eastmanville Bayou and Riverside parks.
“Goats are actually healthier when they eat woody material versus being grain-fed,” Manion explained. “We expect that it will take about two months to treat three different sites.”
The sites were selected based on two main characteristics: a high density of invasive species, and a low-quality site with low biodiversity.
“We’re very fortunate that most of our sites are high quality,” Manion said. “(But), if the biodiversity is low and the number of invasives is high, that site is one we’d put a goat on.”
One advantage is that there are large swaths of poison ivy at the selected sites — something goats like to eat, Manion said.
“This is a cost-effective way of doing this so that we don’t create new infestations,” Manion said.
To read the whole story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.