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My Town: Four-legged landscapers coming to Ottawa County parks | Environment

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My Town: Four-legged landscapers coming to Ottawa County parks
My Town: Four-legged landscapers coming to Ottawa County parks

COOPERSVILLE, Mich.--  Three Ottawa County parks will welcome some four-legged landscapers next month.

The Ottawa County Parks Department is bringing in goats to combat invasive plant species.  The goats will be released at Bur Oak Landing in Coopersville, Eastmanville Bayou in Allendale and Riverside Park in Grand Haven in May.  Parks officials say eating plants instead of grain is healthier for goats, and the animals like to eat graze on woody, shrub-like plants including poison ivy, which is in abundance at the parks. The Ottawa County Parks Department says repeated use of grazing goats has been shown to eliminate 90 percent of invasive, woody plants over three years.

Park officials say the goats will reduce department costs by reducing the need for herbicides, while clearing areas lawn mowers and machinery normally cannot reach. The three-year pilot project is expected to cost Ottawa County $5,500 to start, but the Friends of Ottawa County Parks group is donating $2,500 to the effort.