Effort is part of habitat restoration along Mississippi River in Rosemount
For several years, Flint Hills Resources and Friends of the Mississippi River have used people power in the fight against invasive buckthorn.
Now the organizations are bringing in the ringers – 120 hungry goats ready to chomp, crunch and chew the trees that can wipe out native species.
Over a two-week period the goats will roam several acres inside a fenced-in section of the company’s property along the Mississippi River in an area known as the Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area.
The goats will help control shrubs and reduce overgrowth. Their hooves will also work native seeds into the ground as they walk.
Flint Hills Resources is partnering with Friends of the Mississippi River and Great River Greening on the new goat grazing program, which is part of the company’s long-standing habitat restoration program.
“This grazing project is a natural way to get rid of unwanted buckthorn before winter without using power equipment and chemicals,” said Wiley Buck, restoration ecologist with Great River Greening. “Goats are well-suited for this because they enjoy prickly brush and weeds, and their agility allows them to easily navigate the bluffs.”
Flint Hills has worked with Friends of the Mississippi River and Great River Greening on the Pine Bend Bluffs since 2000 to remove invasive species and plants, stack pre-cut buckthorn brush, and assist with other restoration tasks.
One of the goals of the partnership is to reclaim important habitat for the Mississippi River flyway, a migration corridor for millions of songbirds and 40 percent of North America’s waterfowl and shorebirds.
The Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area is comprised of natural prairie, savanna, and oak woodland that provides critical habitat for both resident and migratory animals.
“It has been incredible to watch the transformation of the Pine Bend Bluffs over the last 13 years,” said Don Kern, engineering and facilities manager at Flint Hills Resources. “Thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers, including many of our employees, the natural habitat around the bluffs is well on its way to being restored to conditions that precede the modern settlement of our state.”
The Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area is an Environmental Initiative award winner for natural resource protection and is designated as an area of outstanding biological diversity by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
In addition to the restoration work, the Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area is used to educate area students about the environment and importance of restoring and preserving natural habitats.
To view a video about the restoration project, see a link from this story posted at www.sunthisweek.com/tag/rosemount.