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Augusta goat project gets under way

Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014 4:58 PM
Last updated Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 10:20 AM
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Nine goats went to work Wednesday eating overgrown vegetation at an Augusta detention pond in a government pilot project intended to cut costs and help reduce mosquito breeding areas.

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Animal control officer Willie Barnes carries a goat to the property where it will be living to help control brush and grass growth.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Animal control officer Willie Barnes carries a goat to the property where it will be living to help control brush and grass growth.

D.W. Williams, whose house overlooks the pond, welcomed the new arrivals to his subdivision, popular with current and former military members for its proximity to Fort Gordon’s Gate 5.

“I think it’s a great idea, most definitely,” said Williams, who reported killing three snakes on his property since moving there over a decade ago. “I think it’s a good idea because the city has a lot of ponds like that, areas it’s not maintaining.”

Augusta has more than 700 detention ponds scattered across the county and scant resources aside from occasional inmate labor to keep them all maintained, according to the city’s Engineering Services department, which sent five workers Wednesday to ensure that a locked, barbed-wire fence around the property would keep the goats in and people out.

Modeled after similar efforts using goats or sheep to graze on unwanted vegetation in other cities, Augusta’s goat project was suggested in January at a meeting of Richmond County Board of Health as a way to reduce mosquito breeding grounds.

Augusta Commission member Marion Williams, who serves on the health board, took the idea in May to the commission, which authorized the purchase of a few goats, although the animals were joined Wednesday by several others donated to Augusta Animal Services.

The goats were microchipped and the males neutered, and they cried out while being carried from an Animal Services truck to the pond area, where they immediately started grazing on vegetation.

“It’s amazing how long it took the city to understand that we can do this,” Marion Williams said.

So long as they’re provided water, the goats won’t be in harm’s way, he said. Two signs warn against feeding or disturbing the goats and that violators will be prosecuted. The phone number of Augusta Animal Services is listed for anyone needing more information.

“You couldn’t catch those goats,” the commissioner said – even if an intruder climbed over the fence.

On Wednesday, Environmental Health Manager Randy Wishard said he recently measured the 2.8-acre site to calculate how fast the goats will work.

“We want to get an idea of what their consumption rate is,” he said.

Fred Koehle, of Richmond County Mosquito Control, said that reducing vegetation “takes away hiding places” for mosquitoes to breed. He said the small accumulation of water at the base of the site was impossible for staffers to reach to treat for mosquitoes by other means.

Comments (20) Add comment
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Gage Creed
19410
Points
Gage Creed 08/13/14 - 06:26 pm
7
2
Goats

The sign said trespassers will be violated!

flipa1
3043
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flipa1 08/13/14 - 06:29 pm
8
0
GREAT IDEA!

GREAT IDEA!

WalterBradfordCannon
1497
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WalterBradfordCannon 08/13/14 - 07:39 pm
9
0
True story. I was sitting in

True story. I was sitting in a coffee shop, when some friends of mine introduced me to a goat herder. He was an old friend of theirs from farmland, in town to eat a local park that was overgrown. He would load up his goats, drive to the park, and set up a perimeter fence. The goats would then eat everything in sight. He would round up the goats at the end of the day. After 2-3 days, he would be done that gig, working 2-3 hours per day.

The interesting thing is the cost. You would think it wouldn't be too bad, but green weed killing is a premium business. He made over $200k/yr with those goats. And most of the time he spent at coffee houses chewing the fat while the goats did what goats do.

IBeDogGone
3015
Points
IBeDogGone 08/13/14 - 07:45 pm
6
2
Move Over Burke County

With over 700 ponds and 9 goats at each pond Richmond County will now be known as the Goat Capital. Burke County has long been known as the Bird Dog Capital and Aiken County just became the Lion Capital last weekend.

Pops
14471
Points
Pops 08/13/14 - 08:10 pm
10
1
They need to bring a couple

of the goats to a commission meeting and see how much vegetation they can consume.......

Riverman1
93854
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Riverman1 08/13/14 - 08:45 pm
7
2
Smart Move

"...and the males neutered..."

Smart move for Richmond County. Maybe they can expand the program.

Stunned 2
6297
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Stunned 2 08/13/14 - 09:42 pm
6
0
Support Stray Cats for rodent control

Safer than poison. Usually I'm the one trying to protect animals, but rats spread disease, cause property damage and are just dangerous. I've heard that there is a supported Stray Cat colony out at the Tech school in South Augusta.

Young Fred
21143
Points
Young Fred 08/13/14 - 10:08 pm
6
2
Great

Idea!

Thinking outside the box! I like it.

Can't wait for the late night-show jokes sure to follow.

Hey, I can take a joke!

GnipGnop
12744
Points
GnipGnop 08/14/14 - 12:13 am
5
2
is a detention pond

a watering hole for criminals?

nocnoc
49223
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nocnoc 08/14/14 - 06:48 am
3
2
OK I see it coming already

Who won the Feed and Vet Bids?

And who was Hired as Director of Goat Management and what is his/her salary?

nocnoc
49223
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nocnoc 08/14/14 - 06:54 am
5
1
Some one might want to rethink this comment

“You couldn’t catch those goats,” the commissioner said – even if an intruder climbed over the fence.

So how is the County going to move them from D-pond to D-pond?

Less we forget the Area Increase in Coyotes.

An since donkeys are one of the animals best known for guarding goats against coyotes. Maybe ARC will have to buy a few A@@ too.

Airman
3823
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Airman 08/14/14 - 07:01 am
6
2
OK Mr Williams,

"I think it’s a great idea, most definitely,” said Williams, who reported killing three snakes on his property since moving there over a decade ago...come on three snakes in a decade, you have been busy.

Little Lamb
49126
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Little Lamb 08/14/14 - 07:56 am
4
1
Outside the box

So the government of Augusta owns and is responsible for 700 detention ponds. I would bet you that many, many of those ponds could be eliminated and thus would require essentially no more maintenance.

Many of these detention ponds are created when subdivisions are developed. But over the years, conditions on the ground change (e.g. other development occurs around the initial development. You could have consolidation of ponds by some simple re-routing of storm drainage pathways.

A little bit of re-engineering of the storm drainage system could eliminate a lot of maintenance headaches for the government.

SGT49
2383
Points
SGT49 08/14/14 - 08:51 am
4
1
If there are over 700 ponds,

If there are over 700 ponds, why in heck did they neuter the males? They could have had a goat factory for the other ponds.

itsanotherday1
48344
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itsanotherday1 08/14/14 - 11:54 am
3
2
This has been alluded to

This has been alluded to twice, so maybe it needs "spelling out". Aren't those RE-tention ponds, not DE-tention?

Riverman1
93854
Points
Riverman1 08/14/14 - 12:11 pm
3
1
Nope...detention is correct.

Nope...detention is correct.

AFjoe
5575
Points
AFjoe 08/14/14 - 02:24 pm
2
1
JB upset

John "dogman" Barrow is upset because it wasn't his idea.

Little Lamb
49126
Points
Little Lamb 08/14/14 - 02:47 pm
3
0
Detention

RM is correct. The facilities are called detention ponds because their intended function is to hold-up rain falling on pervious and impervious surfaces only for a brief time to allow the water to enter the county's storm drain system (both pipes and ditches) slowly. But they are not supposed to retain the water for extended periods, because that breeds mosquitoes in the summertime, and presumably does other kinds of bad things in the winter time.

Now, the trouble is that sometimes, the detention pond discharge structures get clogged up with blown litter, dead vegetation, etc. At that point the detention ponds become de-facto retention ponds. The city government should come along and unclog the structures, but they don't do it. Thus, the city government is running many, many mosquito factories all across the county.

rebellious
21882
Points
rebellious 08/14/14 - 04:20 pm
2
0
Marion Williams

finally hit on a good idea. Dad used to say "Even a blind hog will find an acorn every now and then".

So maybe the tax increase can be put on hold now!

Or maybe the madness of running street sweepers down dirt roads in South Augusta can be called off.

Or perhaps the fee for waste water ditch maintenance can be cancelled.

Naw, never mind. That would make too much sense.

Goatman Marion. I like it. Better than Canal Andy or Tear It Down Lockett.

jimmymac
47789
Points
jimmymac 08/14/14 - 05:15 pm
0
0
GOATS
Unpublished

I wonder how long it will be before goat BBQ becomes the new beef?

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 08/14/14 - 05:49 pm
0
0
Goats
Unpublished

Maybe we could replace a few commissioners with these goats.

itsanotherday1
48344
Points
itsanotherday1 08/16/14 - 09:18 am
0
0
Detention vs Retention

Looked it up and learned something new. See, there are no stupid questions when something is learned.

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