got a little help from a special breed of volunteers Tues., July 8 when 30 goats lent their efforts to a hillside restoration project in Polish Hill.
Tree Pittsburgh worked with Eco-Goats of Annapolis, Maryland to clear a hillside at West Penn Park of invasive species like knotweed and poison ivy.
Goats were provided by a farm in Butler County and began work at 8AM, snacking to prepare the hillside for planting 110 trees grown by Tree Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze nursery. The project was organized by Tree Pittsburgh and funded by the Alcoa Foundation and American Forests’ Global ReLeaf Partnership for Trees
The goats were secured by fence in the tenth of an acre parcel procured by Tree Pittsburgh and worked until 3PM. The event served not only as a restoration project but eco-workshop.
Danielle Crumrine, Tree Pittsburgh executive director, called Tuesday’s efforts a teaching opportunity and demonstration, noting that eco-groups across the country use goats for outdoor restoration and that this was an educational experience for local environmental groups. Those who attended the event were able to witness Brian Knox, supervising forester of Eco-Goats, handle the goats.
Tree Pittsburgh says goats are attractive in vertical clearing efforts because, “unlike human volunteers, goats can navigate the steep hillside terrain without issue or safety concern. They also eat many invasive species, including some that may be dangerous to humans. Goats are light on their feet, so the trampling from their hooves will prepare the soil for planting later in the year.”
The goats in Polish Hill were visible from West Penn Park and Brereton Street.
“Cars were pulling over all day, taking pictures,” Crumrine says. She added that children in the adjacent park came over to see the goats, several of them doing their best goat impressions with bleets and bahs.
Crumrine says they will be working at the site for about a year and half and noted that in addition to their lot, the entire hillside is fighting invasive species.
“You have to shade it out, you have to be diligent,” she says about the uphill battle. The 110 trees will be planted to help reduce sun exposure to the non-pioneer plants.
The goats produced a noticeable difference and cleared much of the invasive species Tuesday, but there is work left to be done. Had they been able to stay for 24 hours, Crumrine says, the goats may have been able to clear the small plot.
Crumrine says she hopes to see more goats in Tree Pittsburgh’s future.
“This is something that Tree Pittsburgh and other local environmental groups would like to continue,“ she says. “[But] goats aren’t free.”
Source: Tree Pittsburgh, Danielle Crumrine