SILVER SPRING, MD - The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources enlisted goats to help in the fight to control the growth of non-native invasive plant species in Sligo Creek Stream Valley Park. During the four-day pilot program, park and planning officials will see how well the goats do in consuming invasive species and possibly implement the program more broadly.
“For more than five years, hundreds of volunteer Weed Warriors have been helping us attack the problem of invasive species that threaten to overwhelm our native plants and trees,” said Derick P. Berlage, M-NCPPC Chairman. “Deer won’t eat the invasives, so they grow rapidly throughout our 32,600-acre park system. Since goats will eat just about anything, we’re testing them on some of our toughest areas in the urban forest to see if it works as well as we hope it will.”
Widely known to consume all types of vegetation, goats have recently been used as a biological and environmentally-friendly alternative to chemical spraying of weeds and other invasive plants in some areas of North Carolina. Target invasive plant species include the multiflora rose, which takes over and dominates meadows, and porcelainberry, which eventually covers trees and kills them.
In this test of goat grazing, M-NCPPC will evaluate the effectiveness of small herds of goats to manage non-native invasive plant problem sites in the urbanized Anacostia watershed through this small-scale demonstration project.
Non-native invasive plants threaten natural ecosystems in M-NCPPC parks by:
- Climbing up and choking mature trees (vines)
- Outcompeting native plants for light, water and nutrients
- Obstructing the regeneration of native plant communities
- Replacing native food sources used by wildlife
- Impeding the county’s reforestation program.
Sligo Creek Park was chosen because it is under severe pressure from non-native invasive plants and the site’s high visibility affords a unique opportunity to draw attention to both the project and the larger problem of trying to manage the rapid spread of non-native invasive plants in the park system.
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission encourages the participation of all individuals in its programs and facilities. For assistance with special needs, such as large print materials, sign language interpretation, listening devices, etc., please contact Marion Joyce, 301-495-4600, TTY 301-495-1331 or the Maryland Relay Service.