Goats enlisted to clear Magee Park for Coulee River Trailhead

Posted 6/28/22

By John McLoone PRESCOTT – A herd of goats will be enlisted to help forge the trailhead of the much-anticipated Coulee River Trail system located at Magee Park. The Prescott City Council on Monday, …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Goats enlisted to clear Magee Park for Coulee River Trailhead

Posted

By John McLoone

PRESCOTT – A herd of goats will be enlisted to help forge the trailhead of the much-anticipated Coulee River Trail system located at Magee Park.

The Prescott City Council on Monday, June 27 approved a contract with Diversity Landworks, which also brings its goats to “work” clearing the Freedom Park bluu prairie. Cost of the project is $7,800, which will come from the park’s upkeep budget.

The Coulee River Trail System is planned to be developed from downtown Prescott to Freedom Park and Magee Park and through Oak Grove Township land where it will connect with Prescott High School property.

The city earlier this year approved a concept plan for development of Magee Park.

“Currently the plan would be to have Magee Park become the trailhead for the future Coulee River Trail System that is part of the City of Prescott Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation plan,” said City Administrator Matt Wolf.

The park is overgrown with buckthorn, and goats love feasting on that.

“Originally, volunteers were going to try and tackle the problem of the buckthorn overgrowth in the park,” said Wolf. “However, after attempting that solution, it was realized that the buckthorn problem was much worse than expected. As a result, it is believed the best course of action is allowing goats to manage the buckthorn problem.”

Diversity’s bid was the highest of three bids for the project, at $600 for the 13– acre site, with the lowest coming in at $6,721. However, Diversity Landworks was recommended by Israel Haas, Executive Director of the Great River Road Learning Center/Freedom Park, who is leading volunteer efforts for the trail system and Magee Park.

He wrote to the city council, “Magee Park is infested with buckthorn and other woody invasives (e.g., prickly ash, black locust, honeysuckle). Goats are a preferred solution for managing buckthorn. They navigate steep terrain easily and eat buckthorn greedily. In addition, they are entertaining for residents. In order to exert the greatest impact on buckthorn (and other invasive plants), goats would need to be utilized for 4-6 growing seasons (i.e., spring and fall for 2-3 years). However, even one grazing could open up the park so that volunteers could more easily navigate and clear buckthorn manually.

“As for a preferred contractor, Diversity Landworks’ estimate is higher than the competing contractors. On the other hand, Diversity Landworks arguably has the most ecological expertise and is already familiar with the area, since they were the contractor selected for the Freedom Park bluu prairie project," said Haas.

Diversity Landworks is out of Brownsville, Minn. In addition to the Freedom Park bluu project, the company has conducted prescribed goat grazing projects for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at Afton State Park and Flandrau State Park, as well as other agencies and municipalities since 2015.

Diversity is proposing bringing the goats in and putting in electric fence netting for containment. Their expectation is that goats will work at a rate of two acres per week. The plan is for the goats to go to work at Magee Park this summer.