September 04, 2013 - 11:38 AM
KAMLOOPS – The weed eating goats were back for a second year and if initial assessments are any indication they did a pretty good job at removing noxious weeds from two city parks.
City integrated pest management coordinator Karla Hoffman has yet to inspect the work at West Highlands Park in Aberdeen but says the work in Kenna Cartwright Park came really close to hitting the target of 95 per cent noxious weed removal, at least in the assessed areas.
About 450 goats covered 30 hectares in the Dufferin park last year and this year a herd of just over 200 tackled about 45 ha along the east and south sides of the park before moving to Aberdeen to take on 15 ha of weeds at the park currently under development.
“We had people along the bottom (of the park) anxious about all the knapweed in the area,” Hoffman says. “Requests from the public, priorities and trying to get the park into a more maintained stage are all considerations.”
West Highlands Park is located closer to homes and as a result different considerations need to be made when arranging to have the natural weed control program from Rocky Ridge Vegetation Control. The first thing owner Conrad Lindblom did was make his herd smaller so they would be easier to control in smaller spaces. They also worked out a plan for placement to help avoid complaints over smell.
“We did have a couple calls about the smell,” Hoffman says, “but generally speaking people understand this is the most effective and environmentally friendly way to do (weed control.)”
The former golf course also presented difficulties with proximity to homes, roads, fences and boundaries and as a result it took Lindblom about a week longer than he expected to finish up in the area.
Visits from area residents were a regular occurrence during the two week stint with kids often coming down to mingle with the goats and adults taking photos and videos of the goats, horses and dogs while they worked.
The goats are currently working in Logan Lake with plans to over-winter at the Tournament Capital Ranch again this year but whether the goats will feed in any other Kamloops parks is not yet decided. The city will now assess the Aberdeen project and see if logistically they will be able to utilize the goats in other residential parks. Hoffman says other parks in Aberdeen, Juniper, Barnhartvale and Dallas are on her radar as potential feeding grounds for the goats. She says the goats are a great alternative especially in areas where chemicals or other traditional weed removal processes do not work, such as near water ways or on steep hills.
Costs to hire the goats can be as high as $630 per hectare depending on things such as terrain and infestation type. In Kenna Cartwright the city spent just over $450 per hectare while the costs at West Highlands was slightly higher because of more weed coverage and the amount of work that goes into navigating the smaller park.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013