We recently took a walk along the path at the local Johnstown Flood National Memorial located on Lake Road in South Fork to see the furry landscapers in action. Allegheny Goatscape (previously Steel City Grazers), based out of Pittsburgh, PA, is a 501c3 nonprofit organization reduces “invasive and unwanted vegetation in public spaces and vacant lots, utilizing goats…”
Goats are amazing in that they can get into areas that humans and machinery have a hard time with, especially when briars and thorny vegetation is involved, or smaller and hard to reach areas. These adorable gardeners will even climb onto lower branches, onto rocks and boulders, and navigate rough terrain that would be difficult to otherwise navigate, to take care of plants and weeds that can take over the area and keep wanted plants from taking root.
The company does an inspection of the area where the goats are requested for help and if it is deemed a good match, they will then provide the electric fence, clear the area for the fence, set it and a shelter up, and bring the goats in. From that point, the goats are also fairly easy to care for, as their food is supplied in the vegetation that they are clearing and then just need clean water daily.
With more of the public looking for safer options for tasks such as yard work, using goats like the herds from Allegheny Goatscape, allows for natural control of invasive vegetation species without use of harmful and dangerous pesticides, herbicides and other poisons that can be harmful to our families, pets and food sources such as gardens and wells.
These friendly, hardworking landscapers will be at the Johnstown Flood National Memorial to help with the first stage of the Lakebed Rehabilitation Project, which was previously done back in the 1980s, but has since regrown and become unmanageable. The goal of the project, according to the memorial’s website, is to “restore areas of the lakebed to what it looked like shortly after the flood, enhancing the visitor experience.” After the goats are finished with their lengthy meal, work will then begin on areas of wetlands and the stream with the goal of the vegetation and native plants and grass being maintained from that point on by the National Park Service.
My three youngest were super excited to visit their new furry friends and can’t wait to go back to see them at the North Abutment of the dam. Each goat has their name on their collar and has a personality all its own. The park is open from sunrise to sunset daily if you are interested in stopping to see the goats. Parking is limited and it is asked that you park in the designated parking area only, as parking on the street is not a safe option. Also, the fence is electric for the safety of the animals, so please do not touch the fence and do not feed the animals. The goats only need the vegetation and water. Other food sources could harm them.
If you would like to learn more about the Johnstown Flood National Memorial or Allegheny Goatscape, please click their links to go to their websites.
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Jestine Mayes is the publisher of Macaroni KID Johnstown – Laurel Highlands – Altoona.