Conservation Commission organizes Goat Patrol

Sherborn’s Conservation Commission is several years into a broad program of ecological restoration of the town’s largest and most used conservation property, the Barber Reservation.

Field border encroachments have been cut back, vistas opened, timber thinned, trails relocated, and mowing of paths improved. But like many areas in Sherborn parts of the Barber are infested with invasive species such as bittersweet and buckthorn.

Thanks to a state matching grant, through the month of June, the Conservation Commission will be testing control methods for bittersweet and other invasives along the trails, in the fields and on the stone walls. They will do so by conducting side-by-side comparisons of the effectiveness of attacking them with hand tools, using careful applications of herbicides, and by deploying goats.

As observed by Jean Bednor, a Conservation Commissioner and organizer of the Goat Patrol, “These are among our most unwanted plants. They squeeze out native species and limit biological diversity. We can’t eliminate them, but we can manage them in priority areas. Goats are good at this, and we want to try them out.”

The lessons learned from this testing will be shared with town residents, and will aid the Conservation Commission in managing its invasives on the lands under its control.

Goats will be in fenced grazing areas through June 21. Maps at the Barber kiosk will direct visitors to the areas where the goats are grazing, as well as the locations of test areas for other treatments. All are welcome to have a look.

For questions or to volunteer to help, contact the Conservation Agent at (508 651-7863) or at conservation@sherborma.org, or volunteer coordinator Andy Jackson at awjackson1979@gmail.com.

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