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Goats Galore

Goats Galore! History repeats itself with grazing at Swedetown.

Thanks to a grant awarded to KISMA from the USDA-FS, a herd of about 30 goats will be arriving at Swedetown Trails in Calumet, Michigan, this summer.  They are owned by Jake and Brigid Williams of Regenerative Ruminants, an ecological restoration service from Poplar, Wisconsin.

The goats will help to restore parts of Swedetown Recreation Area that have become overtaken by Glossy Buckthorn, an non native shrub. Clearing out these harmful plants will allow the forest to regenerate.  Across the country and the world for that matter, non native species are disrupting ecosystems and the funding provided by government entities is a recognition of the seriousness of the problem.

Since 2017 with the help of KISMA, Swedetown Trails Club and volunteers from the community have committed to trying to manage a glossy buckthorn invasion that permeates, to varying degrees, much of this land owned by Calumet Township. Buckthorn has impacted the maintenance of the trails as well as the forest ecology.

How did the Glossy Buckthorn arrive here?  Glossy Buckthorn is an Eurasian shrub with showy berries and shiny leaves that has been sold for landscaping.  Surrounded by concrete or other contained areas it can seem to be an attractive choice, but when birds eat the berries it can be carried to areas where it takes over the landscape forming thickets that choke out native trees, shrubs and plants and forms a dense understory that is impenetrable to wildlife and people. Businesses and homeowners should check to see if they might have this noxious plant on their property.

According to retired history teacher Gene LaRochelle, much of what is now the Swedetown Trail System was once pastureland.  There was an old gate on “Two Hoots”(bike trail) and if you pastured your cows you left your mining company tab on the gate. The warming shed was the location of Chaquino’s Farm as is Farmer’s Well Loop. In the spring of 1947 red pines were planted on cleared land west of Tamarack Hill. So history repeats itself.

Sigrid Resh, PhD, and Coordinator for the Keweenaw Invasive Species Management Area (KISMA) will oversee the project and collect data to determine its effectiveness. This multiple year project will serve as a trial for potential use of goat management in other areas.

We encourage you to come “Greet the goats” that will be arriving around July 9th and staying for about ten days.  Bring your families and groups to see what the goats are doing and learn about how to identify and control buckthorn.