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Unconventional ‘workers’ keep Dayton tidy

By Staff | Oct 25, 2013

This FLOCK of sheep, owned by Randy Danielson, of Dayton, keeps the grass and other vegetation trimmed down at the wastewater treatment lagoons south of town. It benefits both the city — which doesn’t have to mow — and the sheep, who contently graze.

DAYTON – Keeping the grass trimmed at the city’s wastewater treatment lagoon south of Dayton is a pretty quiet process.

There are no loud engine noises that require hearing protection or the roar of rotating sharp blades to echo off a nearby tree line.

Just the occasional bleating. Of sheep.

Randy Danielson, Dayton city clerk, said putting the grass rights at the water treatment lagoons up for an annual bid has been the city’s policy since the site was constructed in 2002.

In addition to the revenue, it also offers another benefit.

“We don’t have to pay somebody to mow,” he said.

The winning bidder has three options for keeping the grass down.

“They can either hay it, or graze with sheep or goats,” he said, but nothing bigger than that.

“They can’t have cattle or horses,” he said.

The site has a total of 32 acres. Of that, 14 acres is land.

The herd currently eating its way across the site belongs to Craig Johnson, of Dayton.

He’s grazing the herd of 21 there for the second year in a row.

It’s been a success for both him and the sheep.

“They like it,” he said.

The sheep get moved to their mowing jobs in July. Last year, they were able to stay until November.

How long they get to stay this year depends on weather conditions and how much of the cover they’ve consumed. Johnson said he checks on them frequently and monitors the grazing conditions.

The water in the lagoons is on its last stage of the treatment process and is actually quite clean. The sheep quench their thirst there to no ill effect.

They also offer another benefit over cutting the hay. The sheep can reach into all the little nooks and crannies around the rocky piled shores and where it’s too steep.

“They clean it up pretty good,” Johnson said.

He’s gotten a fair value for the $275 it cost him, and he plans on submitting a bid again for next year.

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