Posted by Steve Lettau on May 14, 2020

By Madison Goldbeck - Conley Publishing Group

MEQUON — The Mequon Common Council recently approved a special event agreement for the Mequon-Thiensville Sunrise Rotary Club to conduct a project utilizing goats for invasive plant control in Pukaite Woods.

According to city documents, the Mequon-Thiensville Sunrise Rotary Club in partnership with Ozaukee-Washington Land Trust requested the city’s permission to conduct a 2020 demonstration project in Pukaite Woods at Rotary Park. The project will utilize goats to remove buckthorn and honeysuckle.

“Our intent is to demonstrate to large property owners, homeowner associations, the city and neighboring municipalities the value of grazing goats in a highquality woodland to significantly reduce dense infestations of invasive plant species,” the M-T Sunrise Rotary Environmental Sustainability Team wrote to the Mequon Parks & Open Space Board.

The goat-management project will contract with a Wisconsin goat owner or herder experienced in using goats for invasive species control. The club plans to engage Boy Scouts, Rotarians, and volunteer tasks, including additional trail cutting, to direct goats to the prescribed grazing area.

“Prescribed areas in the woods will be temporarily fenced; and goats will be monitored and systematically rotated from space to space to graze after buckthorn and other woody invasive leaf and native ephemeral wildflowers have gone dormant,” the letter reads. “The goats will be monitored to graze for seven to nine days on buckthorn, honeysuckle and other woody brush to defoliate the plants, which weakens them.”

The plan is to return the goats to the same sites later in the season when the plants leaf out to graze a second time. Before the plants go dormant for winter, the invasive plants will then be expected to dieback with results in spring 2021. The goats could then be brought back to graze for shorter periods if needed, according to city documents.

“In just one or two growing seasons, invasive woody plants should be reduced significantly to a point where other management methods can be effective, allowing for planting of native species to restore the natural balance of the woodland,” the letter reads.

Sunrise Rotary has a 25year stewardship of Pukaite Woods. The project task outline also discusses a need to cut an additional trail to funnel goats to the prescribed grazing area, install temporary electric fencing around the removal area, transport 80 goats from their home location to Mequon, and to likely start the grazing periods in June. The goats would return to the area six to eight weeks after the first grazing.

The project will include planting native trees and seeds to occupy growing space and minimize invasive species regrowth. According to the letter, in 2021 and subsequent years, invasive regrowth will be monitored for long-term control, including reintroducing goats or other management methods.

The special events agreement grants the Renter access to Rotary Park for goats as a tool for invasive species removal. In the agreement, the city listed certain responsibilities necessary to the use the park for the event, including liability insurance and restoration.

The project was approved unanimously by the Mequon Common Council during its Tuesday meeting.