Goats to help New Brighton battle buckthorn infestation

The city of New Brighton is turning to a small herd of goats to battle a buckthorn infestation.

Starting this week, the city says the goats will help remove the invasive plant at Creekview Park.

It comes after the city received a $5,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) to remove the buckthorn from about 10 acres of land at the park.

Many other Twin Cities metro cities have turned to goats over the past several years to battle buckthorn in an eco-friendly and nonchemical way.

“I am extremely excited to see the goats in action!” New Brighton City Council Member Emily Dunsworth said in a statement. “As the Council representative to the Parks, Recreation and Environmental Commission, I am thrilled to see the City’s increased efforts at controlling these invasive species in such a unique way.”

Buckthorn is a fast-growing plant that came to the U.S. from Europe and Asia as an ornamental shrub. However, since coming to North America, it has spread aggressively and is now a serious threat to native forest understory habitats, MDA says.

The department notes that buckthorn is also a concern to agricultural producers because the plant can serve as a host for alfalfa mosaic virus, oat crown rust and the soybean aphid.

MDA also says buckthorn is extremely hard to control and eradicate because birds and small mammals eat the small berries that drop beneath the plants and spread the seeds to new areas.

New Brighton says the goats at Creekview Park will be enclosed in an electrical, fenced-in area as they graze and remove buckthorn, however, residents can watch them from outside the fenced areas.