Goats mow weeds in the Roaring Fork Valley

Matt Whittaker

Goats beginning to graze the noxious weeds at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.Elin Pierce / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr

By Matt Whittaker / NewsBreak Denver

(Pitkin County, Colo.) For the seventh year in a row, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority has hired Goat Green to bring in hundreds of goats to graze on weeds along 20 miles of the Rio Grande Trail corridor.

The goats started near the Emma area in August and will end around Rock Bottom Ranch.

“RFTA is trying to shift the paradigm away from spraying toxic and harmful herbicides and instead utilize goats to graze and build soil health,” the transportation authority says on its website. 

The animals are selective grazers who will eat poison oak, thistles, and other noxious plants; aerate the soil; and provide fertilizer as urine and dung, Goat Green’s website says. They also minimize fire danger by removing what could become fuel for wildfires from what can be hard-to-access land.

“Goats reduce fire fuel ladders over large and steep, rocky, remote, or rugged landscapes inaccessible for equipment or hand crews,” the company says.

For all of the benefits they provide, Lani Malmberg of Goat Green said goats are a cost-effective way to manage the landscape. 

The Rio Grande Trail is open during the project, but the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority tells trail users to not touch the electric fencing used to keep the goats in check and to not try to pet the goats. Goat Green also uses border collies to manage the goats. 

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Matt Whittaker writes about natural resources industries, including oil and gas, mining, renewable energy, agriculture and cannabis. He's been based in the Denver metro area since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter @mattswhittaker.

Lakewood, CO

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