Move over the mowers, the goats are in town

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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 started working on Labor Day and will graze and eat in two different areas of the park for two weeks.

Goats can be an environmentally friendly way to reduce the use of herbicides and heavy gas-powered equipment to eliminate invasive plants. These species include Canada goldenrod and buckthorn.

Howard Village Administrator Paul Evert said it was a “pilot project” for more pollinator-friendly spaces in the community.

“Since so many of us treat our lawns each year and remove weeds and flowers, this creates pollen. Having more permanent pollinator gardens makes a lot of sense, and we need to educate our pollinator population who have really had trouble the past 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” of clearing land, and that the project has many advantages.

“In the long term, the project will help the environment by reintroducing pollinators to the area,” O’Malley said. “Pollinators, like the monarch butterfly, are really dwindling in the United States, so it’s important that we work to rebuild their environments.”

Howard resident David Steffen said he originally pitched the idea to the village after being inspired by learning about the environmental impacts of using goats. One of the spaces the goats clear is in Steffen’s garden.

“It’s been 30 hours of pure fun because not only is it good for the environment, but also good for the neighborhood,” Steffen said. “The community has really enjoyed spending time here. I spent three days volunteering as a goat herder, and it was awesome.

The goats will move Thursday to another space in Meadowbrook Park. Residents should be able to see first-year blooms in the spaces next summer.

To learn more about the Pollinator Project, visit cellcom.com/pollinatorproject.

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