BROOKINGS — South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension invites the public to an interactive Eastern Red Cedar Management Field Day to see the impact goats can have in controlling the most widely distributed conifer across eastern North America. The Oct. 9 event will be held south of the Randall Creek State Recreation Area near Pickstown and will kick off at 10 a.m. CDT.
According to SDSU Extension Range Field Specialist Sean Kelly, Eastern Red Cedar encroachment onto South Dakota grasslands poses a threat to the long-term health of the Great Plains.
“Most damaging, perhaps, is the cedar’s role in eliminating grassland wildlife habitat, increasing fuel load for wildfires and decreasing valuable pasture forage production,” Kelly says. “Landowners and managers often use prescribed fire, mechanical removal or chemical treatment to control cedars, but these methods can be time-consuming and expensive.”
Recently, interest has grown around goat-targeted grazing to control cedars, because goats have long been useful for eliminating noxious weeds or managing overgrowth that can fuel wildfires, says SDSU Extension Small Ruminant Specialist Kelly Froehlich. Researchers have been examining tree defoliation and debarking damage in relation to goat stocking rate, tree density and subsequent tree mortality.
“This field day will give you an opportunity to observe goats in action browsing on cedars, to talk with Extension personnel about cedar management and to learn how cedars respond to goat browsing,” Froehlich says.
Directions to the field day from Pickstown are: Travel all the way across to the west end of the Randall Dam. Take a left onto Toe Road W., then take the first right onto Fort Randall Road and straight onto County Road 56. At about three-fourths of a mile, turn left into the mowed parking area.