Historic Congressional Cemetery enlists goats to clear grounds

Thursday - 8/1/2013, 7:15pm EDT

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By Melissa Dawkins
Special to Federal News Radio

The Historic Congressional Cemetery doesn't "kid" around about keeping its grounds in shape.

Eco-Goats will provide more than 100 grazing goats to the cemetery from Aug. 7-12 to control invasive species.

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Congressional Cemetery, a non-profit, partnered with Eco-Goats, a company based in Davidsonville, Md., to control a 1.6 acre heavily wooded area outside the burial grounds, according to a press release.

Eco-Goats provides up to 100 goats-for-hire to eliminate unwanted vegetation while fertilizing the land. The goats are an alternative to herbicides and other vegetation-control methods.

"This a unique project that combines natural and cultural resources, providing the perfect solution for us since we are located so close to the Anacostia River edge," said Paul Williams, president of the Historic Congressional Cemetery in the release. "We don't want to utilize chemicals due to our riverside location and because of our membership only, off-leash dog walking program." GSA undertook a similar goat-related venture to clear roughly 4 acres in Pasadena, Calif., in 2010.

The goats will graze 24 hours a day from Aug. 7-to-12, according to the release. The goats will eliminate vines, poison ivy, ground cover and other vegetation during their tenure on the grounds. They will be visible to visitors walking the cemetery grounds.

Eco-Goats will move the livestock to the cemetery by trailer, and then setup up portable electronic fencing, according to their website. An Eco-Goats staff member visits the goats periodically to check on the goats and any fencing problems. At the end of the grazing period, Eco-Goats removes the goats and the fence but leaves the droppings as fertilizer.

"This is an exciting opportunity for us to demonstrate the positive aspects of using goats to help reduce and control problem vegetation," Brian Knox, owner of Eco-Goats, said in the release. "This is also the first time we have found a suitable partner for a project inside the beltway."

The Historic Congressional Cemetery, a national Historic Landmark located on Capitol Hill, is a 35-acre historic burial ground hosting roughly 55,000 burials.

Melissa Dawkins is an intern for Federal News Radio

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