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Meadow Munchers at Jug Bay

Goats are fuel-efficient lawn-care specialists

Removing noxious weeds and invasives can be grueling. Imagine having to pull, cut and clear over 30-plus acres.
    Good thing goats are happy to do the job for us. Two new gals are on the meadow management team at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary. The pair come from Kinder Farm Park’s 4-H program.
    “Celeste and Ginger, who were named by a public vote, have been here a week and have already eaten up all the vegetation in their first pen,” says volunteer coordinator Mel Fegler, whose usual helpers are human.
    The ambitious pair, two-year-old Boer goat crosses, provide help preserving the park’s meadows. At Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, the main issue threatening the meadows is the spread of woody plants that crowd out native species while promoting a changeover to forest habitat.
    The meadows are an important habitat to pollinators and birds. They provide food in the forms of seeds, berries, insects and flowering plants. In addition to providing meals for insects and animals, meadows also protect against soil erosion, keeping excess sediment out of our Bay.
    In the past, mowing has kept the meadows from becoming forest. Constant mowing becomes costly, noisy and polluting.
    Limiting the number of times the meadows are mowed means maximizing the number of months the meadow can persist as wildlife habitat for birds and turtles.
    Goats are fuel-efficient lawn-care specialists. Even their back-end emissions improve the soil.
    “We want to keep things as natural as possible,” Fegler says. “So we knew that goats made more sense than herbicides.”
    Volunteers spend time with the goats each week to keep the girls friendly with plenty of brushing and human interaction and are trained appropriate feeding protocols, goat health and wellness.
    Fegler is eager to share the goat duties: “I’ve spent a lot of time with the goats, and I’m ready to let someone else have all the fun.”
    The program still needs a few more volunteers. Email Melinda Fegler: rpfegl100@aacounty.org.