A herd of 500 goats arrived in Bear Creek Regional Park on Oct. 26, and they'll stay there through the following weekend munching on weeds and poisonous plants.
Lani Malmberg and her son, Donny Benz, co-owners of Goat Green, are leading the eco-friendly effort in its 20th year. (We ran a profile on Malmberg, a self-proclaimed "gypsy goat herder," a few years ago.)
The herd will munch through 20 acres of the park surrounding the Charmaine Nymann Community Garden, according to a statement from El Paso County. The nonprofit Bear Creek Garden Association raises about $10,000 each year to pay for the organic weed control.
“The goats prefer the dry vegetation first—leaves, weeds and brush,” Malmberg is quoted in the statement. “They're browsers, not grazers like cows, and will only eat the green grass as a last resort. They like the dry prickly things and the herd will eat two to three tons a day. What they eat, they recycle — pure organic fertilizer — back into the soil. Plus, their 2,000 hooves work the soil, aerating and mulching as they go.”
The goats eliminate the need for harmful herbicides, and digest weeds and poisonous plants without spreading their seeds. Goat Green also does fire mitigation work in areas where dry brush poses a risk.
Planning to visit the weed eaters this week? Just keep in mind that the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department and Garden Association ask visitors to keep their dogs leashed, citing a few altercations between uncontrolled canines and goats in the past.
To help bring the goats back next year, you can send tax-deductible donations for the Bear Creek Garden Association Goat Fund to P.O. Box 38326, Colorado Springs, CO 80937.