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Kudzu-Eating Goats Arrive at our Seven Oaks Preserve

A hungry herd of 50 goats will spend the next several weeks eating the nuancing vine from our protected property

Starting June 11, 50 goats will be used to eliminate kudzu at three locations within Catawba Lands Conservancy’s (CLC) Seven Oaks Preserve.  It will take the goats about five weeks to graze and eat 10 acres worth of kudzu.

This environmentally sensitive removal of kudzu along Lake Wylie in Gaston County is funded by a $10,000 Habitat Enhancement Program Grant from Duke Energy. CLC was awarded the grant in the fall of 2011. The goats are from Wells Farm in Horse Shoe, NC.

Kudzu is an invasive plant species native to Asia that has been problematic in southeastern United States for decades. The plant’s vines grow rapidly over trees and shrubs and kills them by heavy shading. However, kudzu is high-quality fodder for livestock and other grazing animals, thus the reason why goats are so effective for its removal.

“We thank Duke Energy for this grant that will fund this effort to reduce the kudzu at our preserve,” said Sean Bloom, GIS director for CLC. “This project is so important to help us restore this land to a healthier natural state while supporting our community partner, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, in their efforts to protect and enhance their grounds.”

Twenty-five goats will be used to clear a two-acre kudzu-infested section of the preserve near the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden to prevent the kudzu from spreading into the Garden. Garden visitors will be able to get a close view of the goats in action within a 10-day period from Wednesday, June 13 through Saturday, June 23.

“The Garden has always been interested in and motivated to use innovative invasive control methods,” said Peter Grimaldi, the Garden’s horticulture manager. “We already use an integrated pest management approach that is environmentally friendly. The use of goats to control invasive kudzu is a continuation of that.”

In July 2011, CLC partnered with the Garden and Clean Water Management Trust Fund to conserve the 77-acres Seven Oaks Preserve. This wooded land serves as an important wildlife habitat corridor and provides a natural filter for water draining into Lake Wyle, a major drinking water source for many local communities. The preserve connects the Garden with Lake Wylie and will host a 2.3-mile segment of the Carolina Thread Trail.

Once the goats eat the kudzu, CLC staff will be able to assess the soil and tree conditions for damage and erosion. To prevent regrowth, targeted herbicide will be used to completely kill the kudzu’s extensive root system.

To go to the Garden and see the goats in action, go to  www.dsbg.org/geninfo.php or call 704. 825.4490 for more information. The Garden is located at 6500 South New Hope Road in Belmont. Catawba Lands Conservancy will provide updates on the goats’ kudzu eating progress via its website, catawbalands.org, and Facebook page, Facebook.com/catawbalands.org.