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The Goat Solution

More than 75 goats were brought in to maintain a natural prairie grass restoration project at the 133rd Airlift Wing in St. Paul, Minn., June 5, 2019.

More than 75 goats were brought in to maintain a natural prairie grass restoration project at the 133rd Airlift Wing in St. Paul, Minn., June 5, 2019. The goats provide the essential maintenance that a natural setting requires in the most ecologically friendly way. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Tech. Sgt. Paul Santikko)

More than 75 goats were brought in to maintain a natural prairie grass restoration project at the 133rd Airlift Wing in St. Paul, Minn., June 5, 2019.

More than 75 goats were brought in to maintain a natural prairie grass restoration project at the 133rd Airlift Wing in St. Paul, Minn., June 5, 2019. The goats provide the essential maintenance that a natural setting requires in the most ecologically friendly way. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Tech. Sgt. Paul Santikko)

More than 75 goats were brought in to maintain a natural prairie grass restoration project at the 133rd Airlift Wing in St. Paul, Minn., June 5, 2019.

More than 75 goats were brought in to maintain a natural prairie grass restoration project at the 133rd Airlift Wing in St. Paul, Minn., June 5, 2019. The goats provide the essential maintenance that a natural setting requires in the most ecologically friendly way. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Tech. Sgt. Paul Santikko)

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – While most organizations are busy welcoming summer interns, the 133rd Airlift Wing is welcoming…goats? 

Meet Lilac, one of 72 goats recently added to the 133rd Airlift Wing’s summer staff. For the next three weeks, they will be solving the problem of maintaining eight-acres of native prairie that the Wing has preserved over the past decade.

“We have native prairie that requires specific care, such as plant identification and manual removal of invasive species,” said Matt Hill, 133rd Civil Engineer Squadron. “It’s a time-consuming project that requires manpower that we previously didn’t have sufficient staff to cover – that is, not until now.” 

The goat solution is fairly common amongst facility managers and was funded by the National Guard Bureau for 2019 and 2020. The goats come from Goat Dispatch, a Minnesota-based farm that services federal land across the state. 

“Right now, the soil isn’t healthy,” Hill said. “While the goats are busy feasting on the prairie grass, they simultaneously fertilize and aerate the soil. Instead of resorting to manual removal of the grass or using chemicals to control growth, which would ultimately harm the area, we expect to see improved soil health, a more diversified plant population and an increase of pollinators in the area in the years to come.” 

If you are interested in seeing the goats at work, jump on the Light Rail’s Blue Line and head to Fort Snelling where they’ll be through the end of June. 

Established in 1921, the 133rd Airlift Wing provides tactical airlift support to the United States military. Every time we step into uniform, we continue a commitment that’s been growing since then: a brighter future for our communities, our state, our nation, and the world we live in.

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