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Hundreds Of Sheep And Goats Help Conservation Struggles At Sherburne County Park

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Two Sherburne County organizations worked together to apply for a grant that was utilized for a variety of restoration projects in an effort to restore native grassland habitat at Grams Regional Park.

This contains 200–400 goats and sheep grazing on conservation land.

“(It’s) an organic method of preparing a site for native prairie restoration is conservation grazing,” said Gina Hugo, parks coordinator for the Sherburne County Parks and Recreation Department. “So we, essentially, want the animals to wreck a pasture to help by eating it down to just the nub.

“They ate it right down to the soil and we did that three times now.”

The program’s main goal was to improve natural habitat diversity while assisting insects and pollinators.

Hugo and Frances Gerdes, who worked for the Sherburne County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) as the project’s organizer and planner, claim that the first grazing began in mid-August 2022 and lasted for a number of further occasions.

According to Gerdes, these animals most recently came back in the spring to trample newly planted native seed and graze any unwelcome plants.

Additionally, it’s possible that the goats and sheep will return the following spring to clear the canopy and promote additional germination, according to Gerdes.

The project will proceed even after the prescribed fire, three conservation grazing periods, and seeding are finished.

“Prairies evolved over many, many years and they are always changing. They’re really dynamic and they always need that disturbance regime, and so that’s something we’ll continue to monitor,” Hugo said.

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