‘Goatscaping’ to Take Place at Crystal Canyon Natural Area in Arlington
By Arlington Parks & Recreation
Posted on February 20, 2024, February 20, 2024

Bridge surrounded by green trees at Crystal Canyon Natural Area

The City of Arlington has contracted with Open Space Development, a Lewisville, TX-based land and park development firm, to clear 58 acres of thick underbrush using a professionally managed goat herd, beginning on Tuesday, February 20 at the Crystal Canyon Natural Area in Arlington. More than four hundred goats will be released on a mission to clear invasive species, free waterways, and reduce fire danger through an environmentally friendly method without the use of heavy equipment, harsh chemicals, or costly crews.

The process will last 3 weeks in the City of Arlington’s Crystal Canyon Natural Area located at 1000 Brown Blvd in North Arlington. This is the first time the city will be utilizing goats to clear vegetation as a part of a grant-funded project. Parts of the natural area will be closed to the public during the process.

“Bringing in goats is an unconventional method but that is what we liked about it,” James Orloski, Director of Parks and Recreation of the City of Arlington. “The goats are an excellent solution to clearing land in a natural preserve within the city.”

The goats are being utilized to eradicate the invasive privet species of plant that is taking over the park and are uniquely suited to this because they eat the plant leaves, stressing the plant, and rendering the plants unable to grow through photosynthesis. The goats will need to be used over several seasons to fully kill off the invasive plants.

Crystal Canyon Natural Area has a diverse geologic profile - marine shales, siltstones, mudstone, fossil clams, gypsum layers, and fine-grain sandstone have been found there. A half-mile soft-surface trail runs through forest and hilly, rocky terrain within the 40-acre preserve that was dedicated in 2012.

“We have found cities becoming more progressive and seeking out creative solutions to land management that is also extremely cost effective,” said Quincy Crow, owner of Open Space Development.

Most recently, the Dallas Water Utilities embarked on a pilot program that brought in a herd of 400 goats to clear heavy underbrush at two area creeks in South Dallas. Goats were also used to clear 63 acres of land in sensitive areas for the development of the residential community of Painted Tree in McKinney, TX.

About Goatscaping
Based on Open Space Development’s work to date, a typical herd of 100 goats can generally clear a moderately vegetated acre in 3 days. The herd clears by ‘mob grazing’ or competitive eating. Goats have voracious appetites and when a herd is professionally managed, they can clear an immense amount of vegetation in a short time. An onsite manager tends to the perimeter fencing and utilizes herding dogs to direct and protect the goats. These herds are professionally and humanely managed by a dedicated team.

The Parks and Recreation Department of the City of Arlington has received an Urban and Community Forestry Grant from the USDA and US Forest Service. Authorized under the Inflation Reduction Act, this grant aims to promote equitable access to trees and nature, recognizing the benefits they offer to urban communities. The grant will support a five-year program focused on combating the invasive species, Chinese Privet, within Crystal Canyon Park. The initiative will kick off with goatscaping, a sustainable method to address this environmental challenge and safeguard the integrity of Arlington's natural ecosystems.

Crystal Canyon Natural Area, Parks
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