The Prospect Park Alliance has kicked off many an initiative to beautify Brooklyn's green lung, but none of them have been so innovative (and cute) as their newest. On Wednesday, the alliance introduced a herd of eight goats to a northeast section of the park, where they'll work to restore woodland sections damaged by severe weather.
The herbivorous goats will eat away invasive plants like poison ivy and other weeds that have overtaken a gated portion of the Vale of Cashmere. Fun facts: goats have four stomachs that help them digest plants like poison ivy, and can eat 25 percent of their body weight in a day. The goats will graze in that section of the park for about the next five months, and may even come back again next summer.
Christian Zimmerman, the Vice President of Capital and Landscape Management for the Prospect Park Alliance, came up with the idea of bringing goats in to naturally mitigate the park's invasive plants. "When Prospect Park was built in the 1860s, they actually used goats to shape, manicure, and maintain," Zimmerman told Curbed. Goats have also been used in NYC as recently as 2012, where they were brought in to Fresh Kills Park to tackle the invasive phragmites weed.
Those goats were named Mozart, Haydn and Van Goat (to name a few), and the Prospect Park goats share equally whimsical names like Charlie Brown, Zoya, and Skittles.
Zimmerman is optimistic that using the goats to tame invasive species in the park rather than herbicides will take off. "If this works, maybe we can use it more and more.—every year annually we pick an area."
After the goats eat away the unwanted greenery, the alliance will re-stabilize the steep area with ditches and timber that will stop runoff, and will then replant the areas with native species.
The goats are part of a larger effort to rehabilitate the eastern portion of Prospect Park. To fund that effort, the Prospect Park Alliance was awarded $727,970 from the National Parks Service as well as an additional grant for future woodlands restoration on Lookout Hill.
Zimmerman said that funds to rehabilitate walkways and add drainage were also given to the park through participatory budgeting from Council Member Brad Lander's office.
To see the goats doing what they do, and more neat behind-the-scenes stuff, check out Curbed's Snapchat account.