For the past three weeks, Ann Arbor has been using a more unorthodox landscaping method: goatscaping. Ten goats placed on two of Gallup Park's islands have been conducting brush management to prevent invasive species from entering the area.
According to a press release from the city of Ann Arbor, using goats for brush management is an alternative to typical invasive species management, as the city manages these areas by hand. According to Erika Pratt, Parks and Recreation GIVE 365 volunteer and outreach coordinator, the goatscaping project is a pilot program with hopes to expand.
“I know there’s a lot of interest within different parks, different folks that have different areas in mind for future goatscaping, so I’m hopeful that we’ll continue this practice,” Pratt said. “It’s really affordable … By and large people have really loved it. We live in a community where people really care about whether or not we’re putting chemicals on our spaces.”
On June 24, more than 100 people showed up to Gallup Park for a “Goats at Gallup” Talk and Walk for a tour with Mike Mourer from Twin Willow Ranch. Mourer and his family breed and raise the goats on their farm in Milan, Michigan and is home to more than 70 goats.
The tour groups had the opportunity to pet and interact with the goats as they were eating leaves off a fallen tree. LSA sophomore Emma Hammond visited the goats with her mother after hearing a lot about the project.
“I think it’s really cool to see up close what they’re doing,” Hammond said. “We’ve been on the island before the goats and it was so overgrown, so it’s cool to actually see how much they eat.”
The goats have cleared away much of the brush on the islands. All 10 goats have been living on the islands full time for the past three weeks. They eat invasive species like honeysuckle and buckthorn, as well as poison ivy, which is harmless to the goats.
“They’ve got it made here, they get to eat and take it easy,” Mourer said. “They are good for the environment because as they eat the seeds and everything else it grinds it up so small because they have four stomachs … so by the time it comes out its not viable as a seed anymore, so that’s part of breaking the cycle of the invasives.”