Goat grazing restores Stewart Ranch | RecordCourier.com

Goat grazing restores Stewart Ranch

After leading a two-year project to manage invasive weeds with managed goat grazing, the Washoe Tribe sponsored a tour of Stewart Ranch to showcase the results Thursday.

"Stand up straight, ground your feet into the dirt and connect to the earth. This is a celebration to honor the land," said Lani Malmberg, Goat Green LLC cofounder and owner.

The goat grazing project on Washoe tribal rangeland is being led by the Washoe Tribal Environmental Protection Department and conducted with the Washington, DC-based organization, Beyond Pesticides and Goat Green LLC. It is an effort to manage invasive weeds through sustainable practices that protect and restore ecosytem health.

"We've already seen reestablishment of the ecosystem," said Malmberg.

In addition to eating the weeds, the goats recycle in place, fertilize, irrigate and increase soil organic matter. This contributes to soil health that supports healthy and resilient native vegetation, keeping weeds naturally managed in the system.

"We are proud that the Washoe Tribe has launched this goat grazing project and want to share our experience and the results with all those who manage rangeland, because we believe that this is the future of sustainable rangeland management for the protection of health and the environment," said Norm Harry, director of the Washoe Environmental Protection Department.

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Goat Green LLC was founded in 1997 in Ft. Collins, Colo., by Lani Malmberg and her two sons Reggie and Donny Benz. The company uses goats in a controlled grazing environment to gradually and naturally remove weeds and return land to a healthy, natural ecosystem.

"We are goal oriented and want to heal all components of this living system including diversity in desired plants, recycling of all nutrients and water retention in the soil to prevent runoff to the river," said Malmberg.

Malmberg said the Washoe have been in the area for more than 10,000 years and have a deep connection with the earth, their language and culture.

"The goat herd is a living tool and we work with deep respect for the land, water, animals and culture of the Washoe people," she said. "We are bringing the living energy back to life and creating value for the next generation."