Gardening goats return to Frick Park to munch on weeds

The goats are back.

Just after 10 a.m. Monday, 14 goats and their guardian, a donkey named Hobo, in a procession entered their temporary home and project site at the Frick Environmental Center in Pittsburgh.

The goats were led to the Clayton Hill trail area of Frick Park to resume their duties for the fourth year.

Provided to the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy through the company Allegheny GoatScape, the goats are chewing and chomping away through the Clayton Hill area of the park, making it possible for the conservancy to plant trees and perform their forest regeneration process.

They’re the mean, lean, eating-lots-of-green, four-legged landscaping team.

Zachary Gibson | Tribune-Review

Gardening goats eating bush honeysuckle at Frick Park on July 28, 2021.

 

Just behind the back loop of the Clayton Hill Trail, the goats can be seen chowing down on bush honeysuckle, an invasive plant brush with the potential to grow as high as 15 feet.

“They form a really dense layer that no trees can get started under, forming a mono-culture which is really no good for forests,” said Robin Eng of the conservancy.

Traditionally, goats have been a reliable and eco-friendly option in the management of the overgrowth of unwanted plants and invasive vegetation. Specifically in the western regions of the country where wildfires are common, they are often used to clear brush as a preventive safety measure.

Eng explained the progress the goats have achieved over the years and their plans for the future of the project.

“The whole plan is to knock back the invasive species so we can then plant native species that will flourish in the newly cleared out land. This past spring we were able to plant about 150 native trees that can now grow up to fill in the canopy here,” she said. “The goats have been doing a really great job eating additional vines and invasive grasses that would’ve impeded forest regeneration.”

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Zachary Gibson | Tribune-Review

Goats rest under the tree shade in their enclosure at Frick Park on July 28, 2021.

 

Thanks to these hardworking goats, people who frequent Frick Park will soon see the Clayton Hill area becoming a healthier environment for native flora and fauna, Eng said. Until then, park visitors can find the furry gardening crew eating, playing and napping.

Zachary Gibson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Zachary by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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