HOWARD (NBC 26) — A herd of goats has been clearing invasive species from Meadowbrook Park to create pollinator-friendly spaces for future gardens. The goats began working on Labor Day and will be grazing and eating in two different park areas for two weeks.
Goats can be an environmentally friendly way to reduce the use of herbicides and gas-powered heavy equipment in clearing invasive plants. These species include Canada goldenrod and buckthorn.
Paul Evert, village of Howard administrator, said this is a "pilot project" for more pollinator-friendly spaces in the community.
"Since so many of us treat our lawns every year and knock out weeds and flowers, it creates pollen. Having more set aside permanent pollinator gardens makes a lot of sense, and we need to bring awareness to our pollinator population which has really struggled in the last decade," Evert said.
Cellcom is also working with the village of Howard on the project. Mick O'Malley, director of sustainability at Cellcom, said the environmental impact of using goats is that it is "a positive and natural way" to clear land, and the project has many benefits.
"Long-term, the project will help the environment by reintroducing pollinators into the area," O'Malley said. "Pollinators, like the monarch butterfly, are really dwindling in the United States, so it's important we work to rebuild their environments."
David Steffen, a Howard resident, said he initially introduced the idea to the village after being inspired by learning about the environmental impacts of using goats. One of the spaces the goats are clearing is in Steffen's backyard.
“This has been 30 some hours of pure enjoyment because not only is it good for the environment, but for the neighborhood," Steffen said. "The community has really enjoyed spending time here. I’ve spent three days being a volunteer goat herder, and it’s been a blast.”
The goats will be moving to another space at Meadowbrook Park on Thursday. Residents should be able to see some first-year flowers in the spaces next summer.
To learn more about the Pollinator Project, visit cellcom.com/pollinatorproject.