Our park saviors have arrived! A herd of goats, who will be dining on poison ivy, goutweed and other invasive species, made their official debut today in Prospect Park's Vale of Cashmere area.
The Prospect Park Alliance enlisted the goats (one of which is earless) to help restore the woodlands, which have been damaged by Hurricane Sandy and other storms. The Alliance explained how the goats will help this northeastern section of the park, "The area, a steep hillside, presents unique challenges and access issues for staff and machinery, but is easily accessible to goats, which provide a green and environmentally friendly approach to weed removal."
The goats, which cost about $15,000 (and are funded by the National Parks Service), will be here through the summer. According to the Alliance, "The herd of eight goats—a mix of Nubian, Angora and Pygmy breeds—are prodigious climbers and aren’t picky eaters; they have four stomachs and can consume 25 percent of their bodyweight in vegetation each day. They’ll devour the weeds down to their roots, forcing the plants to use all their energy to grow new shoots, only to be eaten by the goats once again. The goats keep eating until eventually the plants do not have enough energy to grow back at all."
They are especially ready for social media; photographer Tod Seelie was on the scene and said officials "kicked me out of the goat area really quickly to make room for people with iPhones to take selfies."
Next spring, the Alliance says it will plant new trees and plants "to beautify the landscape and make the Park more resilient against future storms."
Be sure to check out all the goat-related events happening, including goat ice-cream making, during the coming days.