August 3, 2022
Adrian Lacasse with Durangoats runs with the goats to the La Plata County Detention Center. (Photo by Sarah Flower | KSUT)

Ecological land management and preventing fires with goats

La Plata county is working with local goat farmers to help mitigate noxious weeds in Bodo Park.

By Sarah Flower



Sarah Flower:

DuranGoats is a small newly established goat farm located in Breen. Jonathan Bartley is co-owner of the farm and they've been regular vendors at the Durango farmers market this year. They're talking to locals about the importance of an eco-friendly approach to managing lands and mitigating wildfires all by using goats.

One of Bartley's visitors at the booth was building maintenance team leader for La Plata County, Frank Van Sherpenseel. Van Sherpenseel has several buildings that could use the goats hunger for noxious weeds. The county is starting small and has contracted with DurangGoats for weed mitigation and fertilization of the grounds at the La Plata County Detention Center in Bodo Park.

Adrian Lacasse and Jonathan Bartley with DuranGoats. (Photo by Sarah Flower | KSUT)

Nearly a dozen goats arrived at the grounds last week and Van Sherpenseel is hopeful that there could be a greater opportunity to use the goats in the future

Van Sherpenseel:

What the goats are doing. Obviously, they're taking care of the eating the weeds while they're eating the ways with their little hoof prints. They are aerating the land, they are fertilizing it, it's an option that we could be recede if we wanted to. And ultimately, if this has been done, say in a forested area or a public lands, it could actually be in fire mitigation.


We are going to see some Canada thistle here, which is much..

Sarah Flower:

Bartley is explaining all of the weeds in the detention center field that the goats will be feeding on in the coming days. The county says the benefits of having the goats include increased water retention, increased competition against the weeds, better soil health and a more pleasant healthy looking area. For Bartley having the goats around brings a more traditional approach back to farming.


It's basically a approach to holistic farming and you know, if you have any excess, any resource that's not being used, you have to find a way to utilize that. That's the beauty of this is that we're just trying to create circles keep the ecology of the Durango area, La Plata county in check.

Sarah Flower:

The goats at the detention center will be under control at all times and locked in by panels or free ranging in the secured courtyard areas. According to the county, a horse trailer will be left at the facility to house the goats in the evenings. Since starting DuranGoats it's just a few months ago, Bartley has seen an increase in demand for using goats as mitigation, and is working on growing his company to fit those needs.


When it comes down to it, you know, we're trying to impact the ecosystem of the whole La Plata County area, maybe even San Miguel to that we're gonna need to step it up for that. So next year, we're hoping to get a herd of closer to 30 to 50 Goats a little bit larger rural areas. Hopefully we can keep these county contracts coming. There's a lot of weeds in the in the area. And I think that there's just not really a solution, at least an economical solution at the moment, and this is not only an economical solution, but its environmental. It's powerful. And we're just excited to bring it to the people of the La Plata county area.

Sarah Flower:

Reporting for KSUT Tribal Radio. I'm Sarah Flower

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