Do weeds along the Blaine County Recreation District paths bother you? Well, some forward thinkers have come up with a completely natural, organic, pesticide-free solution to weed proliferation: goats.
Yes, goats will soon be hard at work eating noxious weeds along the Wood River Trail to control species like knapweed, leafy spurge and other unwanted plants along the path from Bellevue to Ketchum. This is a pilot project designed to control weeds through targeted grazing.
Thanks to a newly minted partnership between Pesticide Action Network of Blaine County, a local citizens group advocating for alternative weed-control techniques to protect kids and the community, and the Blaine County Recreation District, roughly 700 goats will be enjoying an all-expense-paid, six-week working vacation on one of the best-loved trails in the Wood River Valley.
"This is a huge step forward in showing the entire community and everyone who visits our valley that there are safer ways to control weeds," said Kathryn Goldman, campaign director for Pesticide Action Network of Blaine County. "BCRD has really gone the extra mile for our community's public health on this."
"Using goats for weed management as an alternative to pesticides and herbicides is an example of our commitment to sustainability and the health of our community. said Jim Keating, the recreation district's executive director. "We are excited about this pilot project and its potential to be successful."
The Wood River Trail is ideal for a targeted grazing project because the goats are expected to be effective and efficient on the 18 miles of area where they will be working to primarily control knapweed. The goats are hungry every day, they prefer high-protein species like knapweed over desirable plants like grasses and they don't mind long days in the sun. Their digestive tracts also break down more than 95 percent of the knapweed seeds they eat, preventing those seeds from taking root.
The project will begin at either the very end of June or early July. Notification about goat locations and dates of arrival will be available through the recreation district. The contractor will use fencing as needed to manage the goats as they move along the path where the weeds grow so that trail users will be minimally impacted by the six-week project. The recreation district encourages everyone using the Wood River Trail to stop and observe, but to let the goats do their work and refrain from petting them or otherwise interfere with the weed eating.
For more information about goats on the Wood River Trail, contact Janelle Conners at 578-5453 or visit www.bcrd.org. For more information on alternatives to chemical weed control, contact Kathryn Goldman, Pesticide Action Network of Blaine County at 721-3108 or visit www.pesticideactionnetwork.net.