Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Goat Groundskeepers: A Chew Crew Gobbles Up Invasive Species

The Historic Congressional Cemetery, permanent resting place of J. Edgar Hoover, John Philip Sousa and 68,000 others, is threatened by invasive species such as poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, kudzu and English ivy. “They are plants not native to Washington, D.C.,” says Paul Williams, president of the cemetery. “It climbs and kills our trees, which then fall onto the cemetery, damaging our headstones.” Instead of using harmful herbicides that could become runoff into the nearby Anacostia River, managers have enlisted a herd of 30 goats to combat the problem. The arrangement lets the native plants grow to support pollinating insects.

The Chew Crew, comprised of 40 goats at the University of Georgia, is likewise tasked with getting rid of invasive species growing around urban streams on their campus, another example of the elegant, low-tech solution. Maintaining steep inclines and other hard-to-reach areas of campus can be expensive when using toxic herbicides and physical labor. After seeing the success of the Chew Crew, Clemson University is now also using goats to naturally recover some of the more overgrown areas of its campus.