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Draper Journal

City Council Approves Use of Goats for Vegetation Removal

Jun 29, 2016 10:56AM ● By Kelly Cannon

By Kelly Cannon | [email protected]

The Draper City Council approved the use of goats for vegetation removal in the SunCrest area during their May 17 meeting. The unanimous decision approved a contract with a goat contractor, as well as funding provided by the Utah Division of Natural Resources.

City Engineer Scott Cooley explained the contract for the goats would be for $31,250. However, the city would only pay $10,000 and the rest of the funds would come from a grant provided by the Utah Division of Natural Resources, specifically the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.  

“They would clean up basically four lot areas in the SunCrest area by the use of goats,” Cooley said. “We already have $10,000 from our city budget.”

The main reason to remove the vegetation is to reduce the fire risk in those areas. There will be a minimum of 100 goats in the affected areas.

Councilmember William Rappleye asked if the funding was enough to clear the areas needed. Cooley explained the goats have to work fast because they need to be done by June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

“They’re very fiscally responsible goats,” Cooley said.

Cooley said the city will be working with a contracted business who owns the goats. The business travels around the state hiring out the goats to provide vegetation removal.

“Some of their contracts are upwards of $200,000,” Cooley said.

Mayor Troy Walker said the goats will eat the cheat grass quickly.

Riley Pilgrim with the Unified Fire Authority said goats have been used at Camp Williams for the past seven to 10 years.

“They literally eat everything within reach. They chew on oak brush, grass, sagebrush. They’ll eat it,” Pilgrim said. “They have this man who shepherds these goats around until they eat a certain amount of vegetation and then they move on to the next area.”

Pilgrim explained the areas in question were places where work has been done within the last 18 months.

“We thinned it down mechanically with chainsaws,” Pilgrim said. “Now that it’s growing back, the goats are an ideal way to graze it down. They do a really good job.”

Brianna Binnebose from the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands said the goats are the preferred chosen alternative method.

“The oak brush grows back really quickly after those first few treatments,” Binnebose said.

The other alternatives to the vegetation removal are either hand crews coming to thin it out or herbicides. However, the goats are preferred to dumping chemicals in the areas because of concerns over the water shed.

Binnebose explained the city of Santaquin owns their own herd of goats, though their numbers have shrunken after selling off some of the goats. Immigration Canyon also has used goats in years past because the management team also didn’t want to introduce herbicide into the water shed.

The motion for use of the goats was passed unanimously.