There’s been more than enough depressing or distressing news today, so let’s focus on the positive for a change. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the local government is handling at least one challenge by adding more workers to the payroll, but for once it may be a program which conservatives can get behind. They’re taking care of an invasive species problem as well as some routine maintenance needs with goats. (Route Fifty)
Porcelain berry vines have invaded the hillside here on the edge of the city’s West Penn Park, strangling native plants and trees and threatening to take over the park.
The City of Pittsburgh doesn’t want to use herbicides to clear the fast-growing invasive plant. And pulling the vines out by hand may expose workers to poison ivy and thorns. But a new contracting crew has just the appetite for the job.
Cowboy, Twinsie and eight other goats owned by Steel City Grazers will hoof it through West Penn and two other city parks all summer, eating the vines and other weeds to make room for native plants to grow. And Pittsburgh isn’t the only city or state where goats are being enlisted by government this year. They are being called on to munch on buckthorn in Minneapolis, nibble on English ivy in New York City, and clear brush in Southern California.
This isn’t the only place where goats are being used for clearing excess growth. A few weeks ago a herd of them arrived at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to clear out dry brush amid worries of wildfires in the area. (It’s not the first time. They used goats for the same purpose in 2012.) O’Hare Airport moved to using goats to clear the areas between the runways back in 2013. It seems to work well as long as you fence them off in one “work area” at a time and move them around regularly. (They also don’t seem to mind the noise from the planes.)
It’s not a perfect solution everywhere, particularly if you’re trying to clear out an invasive species which the goats don’t want to eat. And, as the report indicates, you have to know what you’re doing. You can’t just show up with a truck load of goats and turn them loose. But for places where it works out, it can be cheaper and the environmentalists love it. (Hey now… they’re getting rid of invasive species? Has anyone told Jim Geraghty in case he’s planning a sequel to The Weed Agency?)
Goats are immune to corruption, they never sue you for infringing on their rights, and they rarely take a sick day. We may want to look at putting them in Congress on the budget committee. Seriously… how much worse could they do?