Sunday, April 15, 2012

Goats cleaning up University of Georgia campus

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
They're not being allowed between the hedges just yet, but a herd of eight goats is now calling 2 acres on the University of Georgia home.
Goats munch away on the UGA campus.
Dana TeCroney, SpecialGoats munch away on the UGA campus.
And they're helping clean up the place.
The goats are munching up pesky, invasive greenery as part of a project created by student Zach Richardson, a senior landscape architecture major. Richardson, a Nashville native, was awarded a grant by the university's Office of Sustainability to bring the goats to the heart of campus to clear an overgrown patch.
The goats arrived three weeks ago and have been munching away along Tanyard Creek near the Hull Street parking deck ever since.
"It was an impenetrable wall of vegetation," Richardson said. "They’ve taken it from a jungle to like a park land."
The hard-working goats have caused a buzz on campus, too, with students from various academic departments getting involved and stopping to notice an area of campus long overlooked, Richardson said.
It's not just about clearing a patch of land, he said.
"The cool part is that it’s exploded into something much bigger than that," Richardson said. "You can sit there and watch all the students stop by and hang out with the goats."
In addition to weekly work days for volunteers, two photography students and three English students will be documenting the goats’ progress with photos and video and will compile the footage into a project at the end of the semester, according to Kevin Kirsche, head of the sustainability office.
A graduate class has planned several events around the goats as part of a larger project on landscape restoration, Kirsche said. Saturday morning, the goats will be the guests of honor at KidFest, where children in the community can meet the animals and play goat games.
For Richardson, the goat project isn't about a class and he's not going to be graded on it. The natural way of trimming back unwanted plant growth is better on the environment than big machinery or chemicals, he said.
“It's so much more entertaining to watch goats eat than listen to bulldozers," Richardson said. "I'm pretty confident that goats are the way to go now."
Eric MacDonald, an assistant professor in the College of Environment and Design, said the project offers a variety of research options.
“It’s a fairly new, innovative technique, and there are lots of research questions one can ask about it,” he said. “Given that we are a research institution, it seems to make sense that we should be engaging in that study right here in our own backyard.”

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