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Green Goats clean up Walkway Over the Hudson
BY HV NEWS STAFF • ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 7/22/15
They are cute, furry and eat almost anything. Meet the Bridge Authority’s new vegetation control contractors – goats.
A dozen goats will reside under a section of the Walkway Over the Hudson Railroad Bridge for the next 12 weeks or so, clearing the land of poison ivy, weeds and all sorts of overgrown vegetation.
“We’re excited about this pilot program,” Executive Director Joseph Ruggiero said. “Goats have been used for vegetation control throughout history; we’re just trying a new application under the Walkway.”
Ruggiero added that this environmentally friendly approach will also save money. “Bringing in the goats will cost about half what our seasonal summer help has cost in the past to do the same job and we can better use that extra help in maintaining our other properties and bridges,” Ruggiero added.
Authority Chairman Richard A. Gerentine said being innovative is what makes the Bridge Authority stand out. “We’re willing to try new things, look for new ways to generate revenue and constantly try to be more efficient. If this pilot program works out, we hope to expand the use of goats to control vegetation in even more areas.”
The goats are being provided by Green Goats, a Rhinebeck company owned by Ann and Larry Cihanek. “We’re excited to be working locally,” said Cihaneck. “We’ve worked in New Jersey, Staten Island and Long Island, so a short drive to Poughkeepsie is very welcome for our herd.”
In February, tragedy struck the Cihaneks when 100 goats perished in a barn fire in Red Hook during the coldest part of the winter. The community quickly responded and Green Goats was back in business in May.
The public is welcome to see the goats in action however Cihanek cautioned against getting too close. “The goats love to eat poison ivy and other noxious weeds but that means the oils from the plants are on their coats and can easily be transferred to people.” “We love our animals but they’re not pets, they’re a working herd. We ask that folks leave them alone so they can do their job,” Cihanek added.
The goats will operate in fenced-in areas under sections of the Walkway for the next couple of months.
Goats have been used for vegetation control by a number of parks agencies throughout the country, but this is the first time they will be used in the City of Poughkeepsie.
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