This past summer, a unique noxious weed trial involving target-grazing goats was performed on the St. Mary Band lands.
Cailey Chase of Cailey Chase’s Plants worked with Rocky Ridge Vegetation Control on the month-long ?Aq’am Goat Grazing Project.
Chase sent a report on the project to Kimberley City Council, who had indicated some interest in the use of goats for weed control.
Chase reported that about 1,000 acres (404 ha) were treated in a three week period. She noted that this was a trial and on a general basis the goats can treat an average of four to five hectares a day.
95 per cent of the seed heads were removed and were checked two weeks after, and there was no regrowth. Native broad leaf plants and grasses were preserved with minimal damage.
?Aq’am and the Tobacco Plains Bands have asked Rocky Ridge to come back next year.
Chase says that according to Todd Larsen program manager for East Kootenay Invasive Plant Council, Kimberley has the worst infestation of invasive plants in the RDEK. The city has only one third of the budget required and therefore is taking care of only one third of the lands infested with invasive plants.
Chase noted that Kimberley has an amazing opportunity to use goats that fits into their emerging philosophy. The Sun Mine area, she says will have to be monitored for invasive plants to avoid an infestation.
“Target grazing goats to eat weeds is as effective and efficient on large infestations are herbicides are.”
Coun. Albert Hoglund said that the City had tried using goats around the transfer station area in the past and it was effective.
Coun. Nigel Kitto suggested that staff be directed to look into the logistics of using goat grazing in Kimberley, however, Council decided that it needed to come up at a Committee of the Whole meeting during the budget process.
“Our intention is to develop a noxious weed plan,” said Coun. Kent Goodwin. “This could be a component of it.”
Manager of Parks and Recreation Dave Clark said that he has been keeping in touch with Ms. Chase, and beginning an inventory of invasive sites in Kimberley. He noted that it did take several years for goats to be effective.