Posted by Steve Lettau on Apr 19, 2022


In 2020, Mequon-Thiensville (M-T) Sunrise Rotary Club in partnership with Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT) was able to maintain large tracts of land in an environmental-friendly way and still engage the community. The 2020 COVID restrictions on the gathering of large-scale volunteer groups required finding innovative ways to keep up with ongoing maintenance and stewardship amidst the pandemic. Without ongoing stewardship, the quality of the natural spaces will deteriorate over time. Missing a year of invasive species control efforts can result in the re-invasion of an area and threaten previous years of investment in staff/volunteer time and organizational resources. As a result, in mid-June 2020, the team welcomed some new recruits, the 'Grazing Goats Crew'.

The goats, along with M-T Sunrise Rotary and OWLT stewardship volunteers, began working on this important invasive species management activity, to tackle buckthorn and other brushy invasive species. This activity is beneficial as a sustainable management practice. Avoiding the use of herbicides maintains soil and water health, as well as, is friendly to our pollinators. Additionally, not only does this type of project support farmers, it keeps the goats happy by giving them a food source, and it allows for community engagement, in that park visitors were able to view the 'Grazing Goat Crew' in residence.

Due to the project success, the M-T Sunrise Rotary Club in partnership with OWLT continues to welcome the goats back to Mequon Rotary Parks - Pukaite Woods to continue their multiple-year job of eliminating brushy invasive species, which severely degrade critical wildlife habitats by shading out native species, and therefore, limiting available food sources for local wildlife. When an invasive species like buckthorn outcompetes native species like oaks, hickories, and other berry/nut-producing shrubs, woodlands trend towards fostering a lower diversity of trees, shrubs and woodland wildflowers. Maintaining diversity is important in keeping natural areas resilient against diseases, pests, and changing climate, as well as to provide ample food sources for local wildlife.