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‘Goatscaping’ herd helps out on Railyard grounds

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More than 50 goats and sheep from Horned Locust Goatscaping have been put to work grooming native grasses in the Santa Fe Railyard. (Eddie Moore/ Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE – The Santa Fe Railyard Park is going to the goats.

On Tuesday, goat wrangler Amanita Thorp brought a herd of 17 sheep and 42 goats from her ranch south of the city to graze on native grasses planted in the Railyard near the corner of Cerrillos Road and Guadalupe Street.

bright spotThe herd, penned in by a moveable solar electric fence, will be conducting its “goatscaping” operation through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The goats were originally scheduled to be in town from Oct. 28-30, but Monday’s graze was canceled due to inclement weather.

The event, dubbed “Graze Days,” is designed to raise public awareness about the benefits of using goatscaping to clear underbrush instead of chemicals, weed mowers or fire. Goats have been used by the cities of Pittsburgh and Atlanta to groom park areas, but this year marks the first time that they have been employed in Santa Fe, said Shannon Palermo, program coordinator for the Railyard Park Conservancy.

The goats made their maiden journey to the Railyard on April 22 for Earth Day, Palermo noted. Tuesday she was standing not far from a banner adorned with trees proclaiming “Every Day is Earth Day,” which had a cutout for members of the public to put their face in. Instagram, anyone?

Graze Days, which was produced by the Railyard Park Conservancy and the Quivira Coalition, will have tangible benefits for the grasses in the 11-year-old Railyard Park, which were accidently treated by city parks department crews as if they were bluegrass, said Molly Mehaffy, a Railyard Park Conservancy board member.

As a result of being mowed and watered all the time, the native grasses never went to seed and the quality of the soil deteriorated. “People aren’t used to having a component of a public park that isn’t being groomed [by machines],” Mehaffy said. “They think it looks messy.”

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A goat from Horned Locust Goatscaping chows down as part of a ‘goatscaping’ project at the Santa Fe Railyard. (Eddie Moore/ Albuquerque Journal)

Enter Thorp and her herd from Horned Locust Goatscaping, which Mehaffy found on the internet. Thorp, who brought her 15-month-old daughter Miracle to Graze Days, said she has done numerous graze-for-hire gigs in Eldorado and at the Buckman Diversion Project west of town on the Rio Grande. Her family, which used to have a dairy farm, got into goatscaping more than a decade ago with an assignment from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the Galisteo Dam, she said.

The Railyard Park grazes will be a three-year project, Palermo said. The sight of livestock grazing across the street from the Railyard’s contemporary art galleries is yet further proof that the “City Different” lives up to its nickname.

As a result of being mowed and watered all the time, the native grasses never went to seed and the quality of the soil deteriorated. “People aren’t used to having a component of a public park that isn’t being groomed [by machines],” Mehaffy said. “They think it looks messy.”

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Not far from the Santa Fe Railyard’s contemporary art galleries, goats and sheep were on the job Tuesday ‘goatscaping’ the area. (Eddie Moore/ Albuquerque Journal)

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Goats and sheep graze in the grass at the Santa Fe Railyard Tuesday. (Eddie Moore/ Albuquerque Journal)

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