Lenexa enlists goats to clear weeds, brush from Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park

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LENEXA, Kan. — The city of Lenexa is using goats to help remove weeds and overgrowth at a local park.

City leaders hired Goats On The Go KCMO to eliminate invasive species along the creek at Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park. Goats On The Go KCMO Owner Margaret Chamas said her herd of goats began grazing on Friday. 

“I bring the goats into a new location, and I set up temporary netting, solar powered. Then let the goats in. I usually start with about a half an acre at a time so they are moved every three to five days on average,” Chamas said.

“As they eat down this particular area, we build a new fence and we let them into that new area. They’ll just kind of hop along, in this case, the entire stream corridor until the project is done.” 

This is the first time the city has used animals to help clear vegetation in a park. Chamas’ 42 goats are tasked with clearing roughly 2.5 acres of land along the stream. 

“I do a lot of work in environmentally sensitive areas; high slopes, near waterways where you don’t want chemicals running and on terrain where it’s not conducive to sending a guy with a lawnmower or a weed eater. This [property] is all of those things,” Chamas said.  

The goats can eat about an acre of brush in 7-10 days. Her goats will be at the park for about two to three weeks.

While the animals are working to clear the brush, the city is asking people to avoid climbing the fence or interfering with the animals. Chamas said she will bring baby goats to the park for the public to interact with during the Spinach Festival on Sept. 11. 

Ted Semadeni, stormwater superintendent for the city of Lenexa, said the goats can easily clear vegetation in places it would be difficult for city maintenance crews to get to.

“If we were to bring mowers in here we would probably tear up the ground and cause some more erosion, some more ruts. The emission from the mowers and weed eaters is bad for the air quality,” Semadeni said.

”If we had to spray the invasive vegetation with chemicals it would take a lot of the chemical, which then could wash into the water and go down stream. Which is completely against what we are trying to do.” 

Lenexa has roughly 22 miles of streamway with an adjacent 315 acres of riparian zone to maintain. Semadeni said the land surrounding those waterways hosts several invasive species like bush honeysuckle, poison ivy and ragweed that can damage the soil and lead to erosion. 

“I think it’s between $1,500 and $2,000 to have this [goat grazing] done. Comparatively, it would cost us a lot more. Our parks crews would come in here twice a year to kind of cut this vegetation down and it’s about 200-300 man hours each time they come out,” Semadeni said.

“If you want to multiply that by, our guys make $15 an hour, it’s expensive just in labor. Plus equipment usage, chemical usage, the disposal of the stuff we cut out of here.”

Chamas provides service to private landowners and local municipalities. Anyone in the Kansas City metro interested in having her goats help trim their yard can find more information online .

People outside the Kansas City metro can find more information on goat grazing at the Goats on the Go website

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