Goats brought in to clean up plants at Red Mountain Park
By Lauren Walsh
Birmingham's Red Mountain Park is trying out a new way to get rid of unwanted plants. They've brought in a herd of 50 goats. For the next week, the goats will be placed in various sections of the park to clean it up.Their mission is to get rid of as much kudzu and privet as possible."Our little experiment here, I have to tell you I'm very impressed," said David Dionne, Red Mountain Park Executive Director. "I can see almost all the way across this plot of land now."Dionne says the park is severely infested with invasive plants like kudzu and privet. "Because there's no natural predator for privet, but it shades out all of the native species," explained Dionne. "And it makes it very difficult for oak trees and ferns and oak leaf hydrangeas to grow."He enlisted the help of 'Goat Busters', a company of traveling goats out of Virginia."From my perspective, they're about as good as workers get," said Head Goat Buster Jace Goodling. They work around the clock in two hour shifts. Two hours eating. Two hours resting. Two hours eating. Two hours resting."Goodling brought two dogs for protection along with his herd of 50 goats."They're very aggressive browsers," said Goodling. "This is their natural thing. This is their natural mission in life.""These guys can clear half an acre a day no problem," described Dionne. "And they're happy as a little clown."Seven days of work will cost $10,000. Red Mountain Park is using a U.S. Forest Grant."There's going to be probably a 10 to 15 year program here just to sweep our part of the mountain. Then, we'll have to be vigilant against it because Jefferson County is ground zero for privet in the United States. If the pilot this week is successful, Dionne expects to bring the goats back three to four times each year.
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