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Goats Brought To Long Island Nature Preserve To Clear Weeds

BRIDGEHAMPTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Weeds are popping up everywhere now that the weather has warmed up, and now, there is a different kind of eco-friendly solution.

As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, half a dozen hungry goats were welcomed Thursday on the East End of Long Island.

They have been munching their way through a preserve in Bridgehampton — chewing up and clearing out the invasive weeds.

“The goats are here, and we’re counting on them to take (the weeds) down for good,” said Dai Dayton, president of Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt.

It is a low-tech solution to a thorny problem. The 40-acre Vineyard Field – part of the Long Pond Greenbelt – is overrun with weeds crowding hiking trails.

Volunteers tried, but could not tackle the prickly weed problem themselves. And lawn-mowing and herbicides would hurt the habitat.

“That’s why we had to resort to goats,” Dayton said, “because if we could mow every two weeks – but we can’t. There’s birds; there’s everything in this field.”

The goats were rented from an upstate farm, and they are low maintenance too. They only need water and a solar-powered electric fence to eat their way through three acres at a time.

“They just keep going until they make a dent in this mess,” Dayton said.

Amazingly, the goats prefer weeds and leave healthy grasses behind.

“It is the most environmentally friendly, and we hope, efficient, way of doing this,” said Sandra Ferguson of Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt.

The technique has taken root elsewhere, with airports also using goat squads to tackle weeds. O’Hare International Airport in Chicago brought in not only goats, but also llamas, wild burros and sheep to clear about 120 acres last year.

The Town of Southampton helped fund the pilot program.

“We’re watching with real curiosity and anticipation. If it’s effective, absolutely, we’ll look at it in other contexts,” said Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming.

This could end up being long-term lawn care for the preserve, those involved said. Volunteers are hoping the goats will chew their way to happier trails over the next three years.

The rental cost is about $400 per goat, per season.

To support the goats in the Vineyard Field project, go to the Long Pond Greenbelt website.

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