Rock Products

JUL 2013

Rock Products is the aggregates industry's leading source for market analysis and technology solutions, delivering critical content focusing on aggregates-processing equipment; operational efficiencies; management best practices; comprehensive market

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Way to Goat! By Mark S. Kuhar On April 22, Graniterock welcomed a herd of goats and their kids along with the guard dog "Baby" and her puppies "in training" at the Santa Cruz Sand Plant. The goats are being used as part of a holistic management plan to de‐ crease the amount of non‐native grasses in the area and encourage growth of natives, according to a story on the company's blog. tails is crucial to the success of such a project. The grazer knows what his herd is capable of doing and the owner is able to specify land management goals. Together they agreed to implement the grazing project before non‐native grasses could produce viable seed. Having the goats graze before the grasses could produce seed prohibited the spread of unwanted seed. The goats graze an area called Sandy Flat, which was previously a mining location at the Santa Cruz Sand Plant. During the original reclamation, the valley was seeded with Santa Cruz County's 1990 Best Management Practice erosion‐control seed mix to revegetate the area as grassland. Deciding on a Method The method they decided on was to have the goats eat in small fenced enclosures for two to three days before mov‐ ing on to the next enclosure. The goats leave behind the stubble of non‐native plants stripped of their seed. Unfortunately the seed mix contained a handful of non‐na‐ tive invasive grasses that quickly became established in the small valley and out‐competed any native grasses that might have grown there. Graniterock's aim is to enhance Sandy Flat by encouraging the growth of native grasses and controlling non‐natives with holistic management techniques. Timing is critical when it comes to grazing. Important Factors Other important factors that must be considered for a suc‐ cessful grazing regime include grazing goals, species of goat, weather, and flowering and seeding times of plant species. A first step was to monitor non‐native grasses throughout the winter and early spring in order to deter‐ mine when they were starting to produce seed. Before and during grazing, native grass seed are spread within the cell, including California poppy, meadow barely, tomcat clover, sky lupine, purple needle grass, California brome and blue wild rye. In October 2012, Ben's herd was hired to graze ponds within Graniterock's Habitat Conservation Area, a 10.5‐ acre protected breeding and foraging ground for the feder‐ ally endangered California red‐legged frog. The herd was hired to graze the tule within the ponds to maintain frog breeding habitat. By spring an extra benefit was noticed; within the enclosures, the goats had eaten na‐ tive sky lupine and carex seed and that had encouraged more to flourish around the pond. It took a certain amount of prediction to decide whether there would be a second winter rainy season or an early spring, but conversations with botanists throughout Santa Cruz County suggested that an early spring was in order for 2013. Livestock Landscape Solutions owner Ben Long supplied goats to do the grazing work. Long met with Graniterock Environmental Specialist Alex Simons to determine tim‐ ing of grazing, the breed and number of goats to be used and what the duration of the project should be for opti‐ mum results. Having both the land owner and grazer discuss project de‐ 44 ROCKproducts • JULY 2013

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