Dakota County restored 225 acres of degraded bluff prairie, savanna, oak woodland and former crop fields on the east side of Trout Brook in Miesville Ravine Park Reserve. The project area included about 5 acres of remnant dry bedrock bluff prairie, a globally threatened plant community and potential habitat for dozens of rare, declining or vulnerable wildlife species. The remnant bluff prairie is broken up into small pockets and is disappearing due to lack of fire on the landscape which has allowed trees and shrubs to dominate the bluffs.
Traditional restoration methods were used on moderately sloped segments of this project. On about 76 acres of steep sections within the project area, Dakota County used goat browsing for restoration work.
This restoration projectwas funded by two grants totaling $800,000 from the Conservation Partners Legacy Program.
Restoration was completed June 2020. See project map.
The benefits of using goats
Effective at woody brush control
Costs are similar to conventional methods
Reduced usage of chemicals
Sure-footed on steep slopes
Less erosion on steep slopes
Steep slopes restrict use of equipment
Steep slopes unsafe for crew workers
Impact on park users
Areas to be browsed by goats will be surrounded by electric fence. Park users should avoid coming into contact with fence. Signs are posted warning park users of the potential hazard.
2017: Remove invasive woody brush
2017–2018: Prepare and seed prairie/savanna
2017–2019: Treat exotic herbaceous weeds
2017–2020: Browse steep slopes with goats
Spring and fall 2017–2020: Prescribed burning
2018–2020: Establishment management of newly reconstructed prairie/savanna
Dakota County Parks received some funding for this project through Minnesota's Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.