You may notice that a few changes to our Goat Browse Program are occurring. As of August 15th, the herd has returned to their home in Virginia, having done an exceptional job here at Red Mountain Park. Don’t be sad! Browsing was so successful, that we are now pursuing a locally based program fueled by community partnerships.
First, some history: To create an original browse program in Alabama, we had to find the experts where they lived. We brought in professional contractors from Virginia, both to accomplish a management task and to learn about the logistics of large scale browsing. In the past 10 months, we have succeeded in both missions. Red Mountain Park is committed to a sustainable future, and for this we must prioritize building the Park into the community.
Our future with goats is a bright one, and will be based entirely on partnerships with local Alabama farmers. We know now that this is a progressive model for land management, and are excited to kick start this industry by developing deeper ties with our rural friends. For more news on Goat Browse progress at Red Mountain Park, subscribe to our newsletter and like us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! Interested in partnering, browsing, or supporting the cause? Please contact Rachel Ahrnsen.
In the mean time, here are some snippets of goat browse info from the past two years:
• The goat browse program has been highly successful – the herd grew from 150 animals to over 400 in 6 months, and cleared over 200 acres (allowing Park staff to recover important artifacts, remove obstructions, and gain better understandings of the topography for future management)
• They allowed us to prioritize areas of management by developmental, historical, and ecological importance
• Over the course of this year, we identified the peak numbers able to be supported at RMP (about 150 animals). What’s more, we discovered valuable insights into browse preference, pace of clearing, and the resources required to maintain such an operation
• From 2014 to 2016, the entire project can be viewed as an extended “pilot” phase, which has positioned us well to cultivate relationships with local farmers, and develop partnerships with the community
• Natural Resource Staff will begin aggressively pursuing a locally based program, supported by philanthropists and community partners, such as local universities and county extension offices
• The outlook is very bright for the use of goat browsing as a progressive tool in our resource management plan