DE PERE, Wis. (NBC 26) — De Pere Greenwood Cemetery has brought back their visiting livestock for the fourth year in a row to help combat the invasive buckthorn intruding on the property.
"It's fun when they first come off and they're starving because they've been traveling for several hours, they get out here and are just munching away at everything," cemetery board president Jewels Sowers said. "Children come here, they love to see the goats and sheeps because they don't get to farms. They get to see this and they like to learn the history and that sheeps and goats are the only ones that take care of buckthorn."
Ben Robel, owner of Vegetation Solutions, brought 70 goats to the public land Thursday that will munch away at the entire cemetery for a week.
"The hillside is so steep that you can't get equipment down there – tractors and stuff – so we're using livestock to get into areas that are inaccessible by machinery," Robel said.
"[Goats are] natural form of vegetation management," Robel explained. "You know, we're not using any chemicals or diesel fuel or anything like that. The fertilizer is natural, so they're just helping build the soil up and give the plants something to grow. It's just another alternative land management for people."
Sowers estimates that the goats have helped reduce the buckthorn by 30 percent over the last four years. Getting rid of the buckthorn is part of a larger restoration project for the cemetery that also involves battling shoreline erosion along the Fox River. Sowers estimates that the cemetery will need to fundraise $500,000 to restore the riverbank.
Sowers says that in the early 1900s, some of the cemetery founders' graves washed into the river due to early erosion.