Presidio of San Francisco (December 2013) — The Presidio Trust recently added 15 new permanent members to its groundskeeping crew – a herd of Boer goats. The Trust gave the goats a trial run last year during a three week brush clearing project at the Presidio Golf Course. The goats were so thorough that they finished ahead of schedule. The small herd specializes in clearing noxious and non-native plant materials from areas too difficult for human access or too sensitive for machinery, such as the Presidio’s historic forest.
“The goats are able to get into areas that are difficult for our grounds crew to reach,” said Peter Ehrlich, forestry manager, “Using an animal to eat the weeds is a marriage of natural resource management, forestry management, and integrated pest management.”
Last year, the Presidio Golf Course conducted a trial run by renting a larger herd that spent two weeks chomping through overgrown ivy, blackberry and hemlock that had invaded some of the links. The goats’ tour of duty was so successful that Karen Maggio, Director of Hospitality at the Presidio Trust, was convinced to purchase a full-time herd that could work many areas of the expansive park.
“This isn’t my first goat rodeo,” said Maggio, “I’ve purchased goats for several previous projects that required environmentally sound management practices, and having a resident herd provides a great return on investment.”
In just a few weeks, the hungry eco- goats mowed through approximately one and a half acres of weeds over three different sites around the golf course, and now have moved on to an area near the East Arm of Mountain Lake which is overgrown with invasive Cape Ivy. The goats are supplied by California Grazing.
“We have an opportunity to try to diversify the understory vegetation adjacent to the wetlands at East Arm,” said Brian Hildebidle, Presidio Trust Stewardship Coordinator. “It’s currently covered in ivy so the goats are a great tool to get in there and start opening it up.”
Brian Netz, Superintendent of the Presidio Golf Course, has already trained the goats to strategically move from site to site, where they work within an electric fence to protect them from outside predators. For now, they live within their portable pen, but the Trust is working to construct one or more movable sheds for protection during periods of bad weather.
About the Presidio Trust
The Presidio Trust, a federal agency, is an innovation in the management of a treasured American place. The Trust was created to save the Presidio and transform it for a new national purpose. The Trust's vision is that the Presidio will be forever a public place: vital to the Bay Area, important to all Americans, and recognized for achieving broad benefits for the nation. Today the Presidio welcomes the public, is home to a vibrant community of residents and tenants, and inspires greater good through programs that draw on its history and natural resources. Three thousand people live in the park and more than 200 organizations have located in Presidio buildings. The Presidio Trust welcomes the public with events, lodging, venues, and recreational opportunities. To learn more, visit www.presidio.gov