AUSTIN, Texas - More than a hundred goats will be spending the next three to four weeks along the Lady Bird Lake shoreline.
"The Hike and Bike Trail actually sits on 300 acres of parkland," said Heidi Anderson, CEO of The Trail Conservancy. "It's a lot to maintain and we have a lot of challenges ahead of us. One of them being poison ivy, which is one of the biggest complaints we get from trail users."
The Trail Conservancy partnered with Rent-a-Ruminant Texas for the clean-up project. Goats will be eating the poison ivy and other invasive plant species.
"They do have a training program that they have to pass," said Carolyn Carr, co-owner of Rent a Ruminant Texas. "They have to be able to respect the fence...They also have to stay together like a herd...and then the other thing is they have to maintain their work ethic...They don't need to come over to the fence and bother people and ask for handouts and stuff like that. They have to do work here."
More than a hundred goats will be spending the next three to four weeks along the Lady Bird Lake shoreline munching up poison ivy and other invasive plant species.
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Goats are built for the job in more ways than one. "They have 'four-hoof' drive," said Carr.
They are able to scale the shoreline and aren’t bothered by the heat or by the poison ivy.
"It's a really innovative and creative alternative to some of the other tactics we could use to eradicate poison ivy, like controlled burns, which affect air quality, or chemicals, which affect water quality in the lake," said Anderson.
By fencing off areas, they'll make sure the goats are thorough before they move them around.
"Then we'll come back through eventually, mulch those areas, and during planting season we will come back and put in native plants that will help ensure the sustainability of the shoreline," said Anderson.
They will be focused on the area near Austin High School and eventually move to the Holly area in East Austin. If more funding is secured, they may expand the program.
Walkers and runners are asked to enjoy the goats from a distance.
To learn more about the project or become a sponsor, click here.