Livestock will soon take the place of herbicides in a new county Department of Parks and Recreation pilot program.
On July 16, 3C Goat Grazing will use goats and sheep to clear a large brush area adjacent to the downtown Hilo soccer fields.
Mark Crivello, shepherd and owner of 3C Goat Grazing, said he has been researching goats and sheep for a little more than a decade, watching their eating habits and behaviors, to use the animals in the right places.
Goats, he said, try to find more fibrous vegetation, while sheep tend to favor grass.
Crivello will use 80-90 animals for the project, which should be completed within a day or two.
The process not only eliminates the need for herbicides, but animal waste promotes better soil and grass growth on the embankment to prevent erosion, he said.
“I was very fortunate for the county reaching out to try this pilot study on how goats and sheep will be a better use for the county parks to eliminate herbicides to create a better environment for the community,” he said.
“Since goats are essentially natural weedwackers, putting them to work in our parks is hearty for the goats and good for the environment,” said Parks Director Roxcie Waltjen in a news release.
Parks and Recreation already works with volunteers at facilities around the island in an effort to reduce the use of pesticides, the county said, and the new project will increase the department’s arsenal of natural park maintenance.
If the project is a success, Waltjen said the department will look to expand it to other park facilities throughout the county.
According to the county, the goats will be in a fenced area during the work, and a shepherd will be with the goats throughout the duration of the project.
The public should not approach the fencing while the animals graze.
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