Hunnicutt Creek Restoration

May 15, 2018

Image of goats clearing brush.

Using goats to clear brush is an effective and low-cost solution.

As part of a long-term project to restore and renovate Hunnicutt Creek in the woods between Highway 93 and the R-1 parking lot, University Facilities is using an unconventional tactic to tackle the first challenge of clearing the underbrush around the stream: Goats.

Restoring Hunnicutt Creek

Running east to west, Hunnicutt Creek crosses the Clemson campus through its wooded areas and ends at the Seneca River. With years since its last renovation, the creek bed has gradually lost sediment and a well-defined separation of the creek bed to its bank. Surrounding the creek is overgrown underbrush of varying invasive species and countless trees. These problems compound to make it a difficult task for equipment to clear the surrounding area. The goal of the restoration is to better define Hunnicutt from its bank and establish flood plains for the creek.

Bring in the Goats

Before contractors can properly estimate the work needed to restore the creek, the overgrown underbrush must first be cleared so that the soil is visible. However, due to the geography bordering the creek bed, modern equipment would be both expensive and difficult. University Facilities has decided instead to use a non-technological solution with goats.

Goat grazing near Hunnicutt.

Known for their large appetite for grass and other vegetation, the herbivores have been used in similar projects with successful results. The goats began grazing on the underbrush near the new Clemson water tower almost immediately after arrival on April 16. The six-acre area is estimated to be sufficiently cleared within one to two months.

A plan for perpetual maintenance

The restoration of Hunnicutt Creek marks the beginning of a continued effort of maintaining the stream moving forward. By using goats over costly equipment to clear the land, Facilities highlights its dedication of serving the campus, while keeping costs low.

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