The herd of weed-eating cashmere goats are back at Bear Creek Regional Park and they’ll be chowing down for about 10 days.

Approximately 500 goats will eat brush and weeds to perform organic weed control in 20 acres of the park surrounding the Charmaine Nymann Community Garden. The gardeners have raised funds for grazing each year for the past 18 years to ensure that there is no need for weed killing chemicals to be used near the organic vegetable garden.

Lani Malmberg and her son, Donny Benz, co-owners of Goat Green, manage the herd. “The goats prefer the dry vegetation first—leaves, weeds and brush,” Lani said. “They’re browsers, not grazers like cows, and will only eat the green grass as a last resort. They like the dry prickly things and the herd will eat two to three tons a day. What they eat, they recycle—pure organic fertilizer—back into the soil. Their 2,200 hooves work the soil, aerating and mulching as they go.”

The Parks Department and the Bear Creek Garden Association ask the public to remember that dogs must be under control while in Bear Creek Regional Park. There have been a few altercations between uncontrolled dogs and the goats in the past. Since it can be difficult to keep an animal under voice control near livestock, dog owners are asked to keep their pets on a leash when they are near the herd. Dog owners are reminded that the rules will be strictly enforced for the safety of the goats, park visitors and their pets.

The nonprofit Bear Creek Garden Association, which manages the community garden, raises between $7,000 and $10,000 per year to pay for the services provided by the goats. Hundreds of people visit the herd each year, and several school classes are brought to the park by their teachers to talk to the herders to learn more about the animals and organic weed control. Goat lovers are encouraged to make tax-deductible donations to the Bear Creek Garden Association Goat Fund by sending them to P.O. Box 38326, Colorado Springs, CO 80937-8326.

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