Upstate Goats Help Weed Out Staten Island Problem
The city Parks Department has been using some real hungry professionals in its battle against the weeds that have invaded the former Fresh Kills landfill. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
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Nineteen goats on loan from an upstate farm have been here chomping on the weeds known as phragmites for the last several weeks. And officials say, so far, they are doing a great job.
"The phragmites are starting to thin out. This time of year, phragmites is quite tall and large and you can see the goats are getting into it," said Parks Department Landscape Architect Andrew Deer.
Parks supervisors are working to bring the old dump back to its natural state and cultivate native plants like grass and black needle rush. But phragmites prevent other plant life from growing and right now they're a problem on much of the 2,200 acre site. Since goats will eat just about anything and have seemingly never-ending appetites, they're considered a good weapon in the war against the weeds.
"They're eating the leaves off the stalks. And by eating the leaves off the stalks they are weakening the whole plant," said Fresh Kills Parks Administrator Eloise Hirsh.
The goats' efforts will clear the way for the rest of the offensive which will include applying herbicide to attack the weeds from their roots, then loosening the earth below them so that they can be pulled out and taken away.
Landscapers have been measuring the progress and keeping track of how well the goats are clearing the space. They're also taking a look at how good a job the goats do at mowing lawns.
"We can try stuff and we can demonstrate stuff about how you can transform something which was waste into an asset, and have lessons to tell the rest of the country and really the rest of the world," Hirsh said.
This herd of goats is set to stay at the former Fresh Kills landfill until July 31.
Officials say there's already talk about using them for other projects in the future.