Goats to the Rescue!

By Ashley Stanton and Chris Myers

Grazing animals, like goats and cattle, have been used for many things.  In fact, during World War I grazing sheep were used on the National Mall and White House to maintain the landscaping.  This strategy is becoming more popular today as land managers are using goats to eat invasive vegetation in places like Spokane County in Washington state; the city of Middleton, WI; and yes, even in the Congressional Cemetery in DC.  It is an eco-friendly alternative to gas guzzling machinery and harmful herbicides.  AWS is looking to join this growing land management trend by employing goats to remove a large infestation of kudzu (Pueraria lobata), a non-native, invasive vine, from a restoration site along the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River.

Fencing for the goats went into place on October 30th.  There is an electric fence to keep the goats in place, and that is surrounded by an orange safety fence to keep humans safe and sound.

Our site is located along the Northwest Branch in Hyattsville, off Ager Road.  AWS is partnering with Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning (MNCPPC) Department of Parks and Recreation to work on a long-term project aimed at improving the stream’s overall health, enhancing wildlife habitat, and reducing stormwater sediment and nutrient loads. 

The goats are being provided by EcoGoats, a partnership between Garden Farms of Davidsonville, MD, and Sustainable Resource Management, Inc.  They will be at this site for about 13 days starting November 1st.  Two different herds (30 goats per herd) will be used to remove the area of kudzu, which approximates 1.5 acres in total.  They won’t completely remove the individual kudzu plants, but will significantly reduce the plant biomass on-site.  We encourage all of you to visit the site to see first-hand what the goats are doing.

Bringing the goats in to remove the kudzu is just the first step in improving the stream’s overall health.  Once the kudzu has been removed, AWS will work with MNCPPC to grub the site and remove the remaining kudzu roots.  Next, we’ll bring in volunteers to stabilize the stream banks with native plantings.  In the spring, the goats will be back on the other side of the stream!  The restoration work will begin once the site is free of kudzu.  Please join us in this unique effort to restore part of the Northwest Branch.

This effort is a part of our Community Stormwater Improvement Project, graciously funded by Maryland DNR.

Comments

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