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Goats helping Rochester parks restore natural land

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Rochester, Minn. - If you are visiting some of Rochester’s many parks this summer, don’t be surprised if you happen across a bundle of goats along the way.

Rochester Parks and Recreation, in an effort to help restore native forest and grasslands, and to curb the spread of invasive plant species, has signed a contract with about 200 goats.

Yes, you heard that right.

Goat Dispatch was founded 9 years ago by Jake Langeslag, a Minnesota native who stumbled in the idea after his own goats were helping to keep his own forest land looking healthy.

The goats will naturally eat and trample problematic and invasive species like Buckthorn and Wild Parsnip. In a small area over time, this can be a totally transforming.

Towards the north end of Quarry Hill Park in Rochester is a plain of what is dubbed an “Oak Savannah”. This area is well maintained by park staff and invasive species are rather rare.

But just to the side, where the forest gets thicker and the ground hillier, traditional management practices can be difficult. That’s where the goats come in.

About 200 goats were dropped off this past Tuesday at the northwest end of Quarry Hill. They are enclosed by a lightly electrified fence.

You can visit the goats too, but Jake asks that you refrain from feeding them. They will likely be there for a few weeks before being moved to either another park of the park, or a different Rochester park entirely. The program is expected to ruin into the fall season.

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