The Parks Committee of the Town of River Falls recently employed goats tasked with clearing and girdling a variety of invasive species which had overgrown the natural area and overlook at South Ridge Park, accessed from 818th Avenue in the Town of River Falls.
The idea for hiring The Munch Bunch began with Parks Committee member, Mary Foster, who had heard about The Munch Bunch goats from the city of Hudson which had used the goats to maintain public park areas that contained invasive species on steep terrain. Foster contacted the owners of The Munch Bunch goat farm located in St. Croix Falls, Dan and Allysse Sorensen, who started their business in 2015 as an eco-friendly alternative to rid areas of invasive species. The Sorensens indicated there is increased interest for goat grazing plant control and they are increasing their herd, presently at 200 goats, to meet this demand.
An early spring start at plant control at South Ridge Park was recommended due to the density of invasive species. Following Parks Committee and Town Board approval, the goats were herded uphill in late April to begin their month-long stay. Contained by a solar powered electric fence along with a security camera installed nearby, the goats were supplemented with salt, minerals and water as they steadily stripped, debarked and ate a variety of unwanted vegetation. After a month-long graze, much of the acre hilltop area brush was debarked. Following the goats departure in late May, the Sorensens' tagged vegetation which could be cut this summer while leaving the stripped plants to die back naturally over the next one to two years. The project resulted in decreased labor intensive maintenance for the Town of River Falls Parks Committee volunteers.