Red Lodge Mountain, like many other resorts in the west, has taken arms against spotted knapweed. Most resorts battle the noxious weed with sprays, but Red Lodge opted for a more environmentally friendly alternative this past summer as part of their off-season projects.
A scourge of knapweed, an invasive plant toxic to other plants, is most often curtailed by spraying or introducing bugs. But Red Lodge opted for a different tactic. The resort partnered with a goatherder to put a dent in the knapweed that threatens the groundcover on ski runs.
The goatherder, along with his 100 goats, has visited the slopes at Red Lodge for the past two summers. The goats dine on knapweed for a week while the goatherder shuffles them around the slopes, setting up an electronic fence to corral the goats and moving it throughout the day.
The goats eat the seed heads, and their digestive systems shut down the reproductive capabilities of knapweed seeds. "The program will last for at least one more summer or so," Jeff Carroll told OnTheSnow. "The goats eat the plants in a way that they can't regenerate. It's such a nice alternative to spraying."
Other off-season projects at the resort this summer aimed at making other impovements. Crews cleared tall brush from Winchester, Lobo, and a large swath in the Barriers area, which will permit the resort to open those zones earlier in the season.
The resort expanded snowmaking on the lower portion of the Miami Beach chairlift, a boon to beginner skiers and riders. "The south-facing slope gets a lot of sun exposure, and snowmaking will help in retaining snow," said Carroll. "We'll be able to run the lift earlier and later in the season."
New recycling and waste management systems were put in place around the resort. Asphalt work patched up the parking lot.