A typical sign of fall, not spring, will appear over the Presidents Day weekend at Bear Creek Regional Park.
This is the second year for hundreds of weed-eating goats from Lani Malmberg’s herd based in Fort Collins to make a wintertime appearance at the county park on the west side of Colorado Springs.
They normally arrive in late October, after the Bear Creek Garden Association, which pays for the organic weed-control method, puts its 2-acre garden to bed, members say.
Up to 500 female cashmere goats will be trekked here in large livestock haulers on Sunday — depending on weather and road conditions, said association member Karen Stith.
They’re traveling from Silt, on Colorado’s Western Slope, where they’ve been working on fire mitigation on Bureau of Land Management property since last summer, she said.
“The herders have been waiting since before Christmas for a break in the weather and good enough road conditions to allow a large stock truck to safely haul them back to the Front Range,” Stith said. “They also have to work with the availability of stock trucks.”
The Bear Creek Garden Association thought the goats would show up last week, she said. “But suddenly the stock truckers were all rushing up to Wyoming to rescue sheep stranded in an intense winter storm.”
Malmberg and her son, Donny Benz, own Goat Green, a business that provides 1,500 goats to government agencies and private owners in 15 Western states for natural landscape control through grazing.
From noxious weeds to prickly scrub to leafy vegetation, the goats eat it all.
“It’s a big shift to have them come now, but they like to get down here when it’s snowy and wet because it’s better for the goats,” Stith said.
The nonprofit garden association, which runs the Charmaine Nymann Community Garden in the park, raises $12,000 annually in donations to hire the goats for 10 days to do their job.
“The goats are thinner now than they usually are when they come to Bear Creek Park in the fall,” Stith said.
But they should find plenty to munch on while in town.
When they leave Colorado Springs at the beginning of March, the goats will relax at a property near Castle Rock, where the nannies will be bred, Stith said. Baby goats should be born in August.
This is the 24th year for Malmberg’s goats to visit. Their work means the county, which owns the 545-acre Bear Creek Regional Park, won’t need to spray herbicides to control weeds in the 20 acres that surround the organic community garden, Stith said.
The public can view the goats while they’re roaming around the park at South 21st Street and West Rio Grande Avenue. Human and canine herders will control their movement.
Originally published The Gazette by Debbie Kelley • Reporter • Feb 17, 2023 Updated Jun 1, 2023