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Free to roam: P’Park weed-eating goats leave meadow, face uncertain future

They're fired: Prospect Park honchos recently gave the pink slip to four goats they brought in earlier this year to clear unwanted vegetation from the meadow, and are not sure whether the beloved bleaters will return for a third consecutive year.
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Talk about being put out to pasture!

Prospect Park officials laid off the meadow’s seasonal staff of weed-munching goats earlier this month, and honchos are not yet sure if they’ll have the means to bring the beloved bleaters back for a third time next year, according to a green-space rep.

“We have a lot of places in the park that have invasive plants, but we don’t have anything funded, so it’s not clear whether they’ll be coming back,” said Christian Zimmerman, vice president of capital and landscape management for the Prospect Park Alliance, a private group that tends the lawn in collaboration with the city.

In May, meadow caretakers hired four cloven-footed laborers from an upstate farm to clear unwanted weeds including poison ivy from the Vale of Cashmere and Lookout Hill. And now the park’s two-legged employees are planting seeds there as part of a federally funded, woodland-restoration project on the land manicured by the grass gobblers, which toiled diligently, according to an alliance spokeswoman.

“They’re very wonderful workers,” said Lucy Gardner.

The horned landscapers also participated in a United States Forest Service study during their time in Brooklyn’s Backyard, which gathered data on their effectiveness by monitoring their progress on Lookout Hill. Previously, all evidence of the animals’ workplace productivity was anecdotal, according to Zimmerman.

“People have been using goats for a long time, but all the evidence is anecdotal,” he said. “There hasn’t been any data, and we’d like to be able to quantify it.”

This year’s goats followed a herd of eight contracted by the alliance in 2016, which was brought in to eat away undesirable vegetation that sprouted in the vale after 2012’s superstorm Sandy.

But the weed munchers may have eaten themselves out of their next job, according to Zimmerman, who said that while there may be more work to do at Lookout Hill, meadow honchos won’t know whether new growth will justify the goats’ return until April 2018.

And some park employees are already pining for their one-time coworkers.

“Of course I miss them,” Gardner said. “They’re valued colleagues of mine.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 3:47 pm, September 26, 2017
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Reasonable discourse

Rufus Leaking from BH says:
They should have been the guests of honor on Labor Day.
Sept. 26, 2017, 7:44 am
Weeds from Brooklyn says:
We the weeds vow to return!

So if you want to get a jump on things, we'd suggest the return of these weed hunting creatures to thin out the heard of our new coming growth.

Maintenance needs to be constant and not just something you do when things get out of hand.
Sept. 27, 2017, 10:15 am
William from Park Slope says:
Do what ever we can to get the goats.

They are wonderful and compliment the Park in a magical way.

Using nature wherever we can is the way of the future, that is if we expect to have one!
Sept. 28, 2017, 12:21 pm
Matt from Greepoint says:
Goats are fantastic for this purpose and delicious too!! Win Win situation.
Sept. 28, 2017, 11:23 pm

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