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Graniterock Co. uses goats to clear non-native species

Posted: Thursday, May 9th, 2013

A herd of goats perform a useful duty of chewing up unwanted grass and brush Tuesday at the Graniterock sand quarry north of Santa Cruz. (Photos by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

SANTA CRUZ — In a giant, sun-baked field north of Santa Cruz Tuesday, a herd of goats had a big job in front of them, and they were attacking it with gusto.

The goats — 95 in all — are part of La Honda-based Livestock Landscape Solutions, a company that offers a way to get rid of invasive plants without chemicals and machinery.

They were at Graniterock Co.’s Santa Cruz Sand Plant just north of the city, eating non-native plants such as orchard grass before it could drop its seeds.

“They’re mowing them down,” said company owner Ben Long.

Long said goats are prized for their ability to eat a wide variety of unwanted plants — as much as 15 percent of their body weight every day. Unlike cows, the goats can cling to steep hills while they graze, Long said.

The idea to use the goats in the meadow came from a similar project near a pond the property, where the goats were used to chew away tule rushes to make room for the endangered red-legged frog, said Graniterock environmental specialist Alex Simons.

In their wake, Simons said she noticed native species flourishing.

For the complete article see the 05-09-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 05-09-2013 paper.

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