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Goats a No-Go for Reston Association

by Karen Goff — September 9, 2014 at 4:30 pm 11 Comments

Eco-Goats goats get to work/Credit: Eco-GoatsA herd of hired goats won’t be working for Reston Association any time soon.

The RA Board voted at its planning meeting on Monday not to explore the option of using goats for invasive plant removal.

Hunters Woods/Dogwood Director Lucinda Shannon approached RA CEO Cate Fulkerson and RA Environmental Resources Manager Claudia Thompson-Deahl earlier this summer, pointing out that Tree Pittsburgh, an environmental nonprofit, recently used goats from Eco-Goats, a company in Maryland, to restore vegetation on a hill in the city.

Goats were also used last year to manage invasive plants at Congressional Cemetery in D.C.

For other projects, Eco-Goats trucked in several dozen goats to the site. A temporary fence was installed, and goats grazed for a few days on the offending plants. Meanwhile, goat droppings make great fertilizer for the return of the native plants, Eco-Goats said. It is not known what the goats would have cost RA, as the board did not get that far in exploring the idea.

Goats are able to eat plants that are poisonous to other animals and their mouth structure destroys the seeds of the invasives.

Invasive plants such as Purple Loosestrife, Winged Burning Bush and English Ivy, among others — are an issue on both Reston Association and privately owned land in Reston. They damage the native plants and affect wildlife.

Meanwhile, the Reston deed prohibits livestock so that would have been an obstacle for the RA board.

Photo: Eco-Goats goats get to work/Credit: Eco-Goats

  • Arielle in NoVA

    What was the RA Board’s rationale for deciding against the goats?

    • Karen Goff

      Just deciding not to move forward. At the board planning level, there is not as much discussion and research as there is when something makes it to the regular board meeting (it’s like the semifinals).

  • Southie

    It’s a shame that the Board chose to not even explore this method of removing invasive plants. Rental goats have been used successfully in other communities and might have been beneficial for use in our common areas, especially those overgrown with Japanese stilt grass. Thanks to Director Shannon for trying.

  • billy g

    it was determined the goats were invasive english goats and they had to find native wolfs to eat them

  • Rae Ben

    Why does the Reston deed apply in this case? The goats are not reared in Reston, they are working there. What’s up with the Reston Zoo (full of livestock)? Are there not horse trails in Reston? In addition to the nonnative invasives mentioned in the article goats eat poison ivy, an invasive native that could use some restraint. It is rampant along many trails in Reston. Yes, good try. I guess goats are still “ahead of their time” in Reston.

    • Jane T

      I think this was an ill advised inquiry– all one has to do is a tiny bit of research on the topic to find that its complicated. My understanding of the board planning committee’s function is that they are deciding what to push ahead to the full board. If a topic isn’t ready for full board review then it has to go for more research. In other organizations I’ve worked that meant that PAID STAFF had to do the research. I’m thinking that the planning committee made a good call on this question. Reston Association has more important issues to work on, I for one don’t want any paid time being spent on this lower priority item.

      • Goat Whisperer

        You sound exactly like one of the directors who was there who clearly wanted to make sure the idea was belittled and set up for failure if it comes back to the board at a future date (Could you possibly be that director but masquerading here?). I personally don’t care one way or the other about the goats, but I do not like the way it was handled.

    • thebratwurstking

      FYI: While it is long known as Reston Zoo, they are actually in Vienna.

  • Goat Whisperer

    Director Shannon asked the question in an e-mail convo, and the Board Planning Committee put it on the agenda. The first thing she said was she wasn’t ready for it to move forward and that she never intended it to be on their agenda yet. After much discussion they allowed her to withdraw it. So it’s not off the table forever, but isn’t “ripe” yet.

    • Brenda Louis

      Wow- talk about sounding like the person with the inside information?! You accused Jane T of being an insider but yet you seem to have the scoop so to speak.

  • Robert Mowbray

    I was glad to see the board make an environmentally sound decision. Since goats do not remove the roots, any invasives they eat would probably return. Also they would probably eat native plants as well as invasives. While it was an environmentally sound decision, I realize that the board was not thinking about the environment when they made this decision.

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