Avista Uses Goats For Environmentally-Friendly Weed Removal - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Avista Uses Goats For Environmentally-Friendly Weed Removal

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. -
**Press Release From Avista Utilities**
 
July 2, 2013: – Knapweed, Dalmatian toadflax, kochia, oh my!  What do you do when you need to remove noxious weeds from almost impassable terrain? Just ask Avista Utilities – bring in the goats!
 
Every year, Avista treats areas around their facilities for noxious, or non-native, weeds that have been identified by county weed boards. In early 2013 during a routine inspection, Spokane County officials identified noxious weeds at Avista's generating facility in Spokane Valley. While Avista has historically used chemical spraying as an eradication method, this year, they decided to take a more environmentally-friendly – and smile-inducing – approach at this location.
 
On June 14, Avista officially launched a pilot program on 30 acres of rocky land at their Spokane Valley generating facility, where 75 goats from Healing Hooves in Edwall, Washington will eat the weeds in an effort to gradually reduce the non-native plants over time. Complete with a Shepherd and guard dog to keep a watchful eye, using goats as a weed removal method has proven to be more environmentally-friendly than chemical spray and more effective in areas that provide challenging terrain like the boulders common to the Spokane Valley. On top of that, it's also a cost-effective alternative to the traditional spraying in areas that aren't easily treated using conventional methods.
 
The goats will be at Avista's facility through early July, and after a few weeks to digest, will return for seconds. The weeds will not have fully grown back at this point, but it allows for clean-up – and another good meal.
 
"This natural, non-toxic form of weed control aligns with Avista's environmental stewardship philosophy," said Andy Vickers, director of generation, production and substation support at Avista. "We're always looking for new ways to reduce environmental impacts, so when a team member brought forward the idea of using goats at this location and we saw the benefits they could provide – we said "let's do it!"
 
As for the future of the goats, Avista will evaluate the pilot program when it's completed later this summer and determine if there's a role for them in future weed management at the Spokane Valley facility.
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