Friday, October 1, 2010

Trees Atlanta employs goats — yes, goats — to clean up kudzu at future Beltline park

Posted By on Fri, Oct 1, 2010 at 12:45 PM

RUN FREE, MY CHILDREN Goats will gobble up 1.5 acres of kudzu at Boulevard Crossing Park
  • RUN FREE, MY CHILDREN Goats will gobble up 1.5 acres of kudzu at Boulevard Crossing Park
While Grant Parkers go about their days and nights, goats will be dining on 1.5 acres of nearby land overrun by kudzu.

Trees Atlanta, the nonprofit that's helped the city maintains its arboreal splendor, has released two dozen goats to slowly gobble up the green demon of the South in the future Boulevard Crossing Park, one of the many new greenspaces proposed along the Beltline, to make way for future tree plantings.

The clean-up of the 21.5-acre future park located near the intersection of Boulevard and Englewood Avenue is part of a pilot program to test the goats' effectiveness in cleaning up kudzu in a sustainable manner. (Trees Atlanta says its crews typically use small amounts of herbicides to remove the plant but are always looking for more efficient and green techniques.)

This wacky endeavor is made possible through a partnership with Atlanta Beltline Inc., the nonprofit that's tasked with planning the proposed 22-mile loop of parks, trails and transit, and a Kodak American Greenways Award.

"Goats offer a low-impact solution for controlling invasive plants on sites that do not contain sensitive or endangered plants as well as on steeply sloped properties,” Trees Atlanta Forest Restoration Coordinator Blake Watkins said in a statement. “Each goat can eat 150 — 200 square feet of kudzu per day, so we expect the goats to clear this site in twenty-one days or less."

On why goats are such wonderful enemies of the god awful plant, Trees Atlanta says:

Kudzu spreads easily because its berries are a favorite food of birds and wildlife. Partially digested seeds are “planted” whenever fecal matter is deposited by these animals. Because goats are ruminants, or animals with cuds and four-chambered stomachs, they are able to eat extensive amounts of kudzu without causing it to spread. Kudzu and its seeds are no longer intact after passing through the goats’ systems.

Interesting. If you think this is a great chance to get a new pet, think again. The goats are being protected by a temporary fence, a human shepherd and two guard dogs.

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