ShareThis Page
News

Pittsburgh parks turning to goats to fight knotweed, other pesky plants

Bob Bauder
| Wednesday, March 9, 2016, 1:42 p.m.
Grazing goats grab the attention of passersby in Polish Hill. A herd of around 30 goats graze along a hillside near West Penn Park Tuesday, July 7, 2014. Tree Pittsburgh brought in the eco-goats to clear invasive species on the steep slope as the restoration of 110 trees gets its start.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Grazing goats grab the attention of passersby in Polish Hill. A herd of around 30 goats graze along a hillside near West Penn Park Tuesday, July 7, 2014. Tree Pittsburgh brought in the eco-goats to clear invasive species on the steep slope as the restoration of 110 trees gets its start.
A herd of about 30 goats graze along a hillside in Polish Hill on Tuesday, July 8, 2014. Tree Pittsburgh brought in the eco-goats to clear invasive species of plants on the steep slope as the restoration of 110 trees gets its start.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
A herd of about 30 goats graze along a hillside in Polish Hill on Tuesday, July 8, 2014. Tree Pittsburgh brought in the eco-goats to clear invasive species of plants on the steep slope as the restoration of 110 trees gets its start.
Carrie Pavlik of Allentown feeds her Nigerian dwarf goats, 'Love Song' and 'Primrose,' on  Tuesday, April 7, 2015.
Heidi Murrin | Trib Total Media
Carrie Pavlik of Allentown feeds her Nigerian dwarf goats, 'Love Song' and 'Primrose,' on Tuesday, April 7, 2015.

Pittsburgh officials think goats — yes, goats — are the answer to eliminating knotweed and other pesky plants that jeopardize trees and crowd out native flora in city parks.

Pittsburgh City Council on Wednesday unanimously advanced legislation that would bring a herd of 10 goats and one miniature donkey named Hobo to graze in sections of Highland, Emerald View and West Penn parks this summer.

Nonprofit Tree Pittsburgh is contracting the service through Steel City Grazers, which owns the goats and donkey, and paying for it with a $10,000 grant from the Allegheny County Conservation District, said Danielle Crumrine, Tree Pittsburgh's executive director.

“These plants overgrow and take out the trees, and then you have major (hillside) stabilization issues,” Crumrine said. “If we don't take drastic measures and do something about this now, we're going to face a lot of major problems on our hillsides.”

The goats will arrive in Highland Park around mid-June and be penned behind a portable electric fence that is not harmful to humans and a second snow fence barrier. They will move to the other parks as they finish browsing off the brush-clogged areas.

“A couple of years ago, there was a demonstration project in West Penn Park,” said Pittsburgh Public Works Director Mike Gable. “It was a very successful project. These goats can get into areas that we would not normally be able to get into.”

Gable said there will be no cost to the city.

Crumrine said volunteers from Tree Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and Mt. Washington Community Development Corp. will follow and plant trees and native ground covers in spots the goats clear.

Carrie Pavlik of Pittsburgh's Allentown neighborhood, who owns Steel City Grazers, said her Nubian, Nigerian dwarf and Saanen goats browse leaves off brush, which kills the plants. She said Hobo the donkey is there to provide protection from animals such as dogs and coyotes.

“He stomps his feet,” she said.

Pavlik, who keeps two dairy goats at her home, started Steel City Grazers in 2015 and houses her herd at the Carrie Furnace historic site in Swissvale. She is searching for a permanent home for them.

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me