New England News Releases

City of New Haven seeks USACE permit for proposed work in waters of New Haven Harbor
2/27/2024
 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District received a permit application to conduct work in waters of the United States from the City of New Haven Engineering Department for proposed work...
USACE seeks comments on proposed work in Prospect Reservoir in Prospect, Connecticut
2/27/2024
 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District received a permit application to conduct work in waters of the United States from the South-Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority for...
Town of Temple seeks permit for proposed work in Henry Mitchell Brook off Mitchell Brook Road in Maine
2/15/2024
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District received a permit application to conduct work in waters of the United States from the Town of Temple for proposed work in Henry Mitchell Brook...

Top Rotator

Local bird watchers descended upon West Hill Dam armed with pen, paper and a few binoculars to participate in West Hill Dam’s annual Backyard Bird Count.
Construction of the System Management Engineering Facility (SMEF), the 40,000 square foot, 2-story addition, is well underway and progressing rapidly.
For vessels wanting to enter Plymouth waters, dredging to remove shoals from the Plymouth Harbor federal navigation project in Massachusetts is currently underway and on schedule.

News From Around the Corps

Full Circle Moments: An Interview with Vanessa Pellegrino-Badell
2/16/2024
As a project engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vanessa Pellegrino-Badell has coordinated many construction projects, but none as close to her heart as the U.S. Air Force’s Airman Training...
Retired Seabee and Mobile District employee retires
1/12/2024
Growing up as an Air Force dependent and living in various locations throughout his life, including Okinawa, Japan, Sam Staffan was used to moving around. Staffan, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,...
Olivier Plantation, LLC.
2/28/2024
Olivier Plantation, LLC. is requesting authorization, to construct a 10-slip boat shed, deck and parking area on the flood side of the Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity-Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk...

Feature Stories

Cape Cod Canal personnel hire goats to 'dine' on invasive plants at the Railroad Bridge

USACE, New England District
Published Nov. 2, 2015
Goats munch on vegetation along the banks of the Cape Cod Canal in September 2015.

Goats munch on vegetation along the banks of the Cape Cod Canal in September 2015.

Goats munch on vegetation along the banks of the Cape Cod Canal in September 2015.

Goats munch on vegetation along the banks of the Cape Cod Canal in September 2015.

When people visit the Cape Cod Canal they expect to see some pretty amazing things – the occasional whale or seal passing through the water, birds, squirrels and so on. Goats are typically not on that list; however, a small herd of goats were seen at the Canal in September snacking on the vegetation on the south side of the Railroad Bridge at the tidal flats recreation area.

The goats had not escaped from a local farm – they were invited guests hired by the Canal personnel to eat all the invasive plants that they could for about a week. The goats’ handler set up a fence based on the Canal personnel’s grazing requirements and delivered the goats. "The site was specifically chosen for several reasons," said Canal Park Ranger Michele Breen. Breen came up with the eco-friendly idea of having the goats over for a meal. "The control of overgrowth by the Railroad Bridge increases physical security."

According to Breen, much of the vegetation that the goats would eat was invasive and located very close to the water, so the use of herbicides was not an ideal option. The steep terrain where much of the vegetation was located could be hazardous for human workers and machinery. Goats are used to steep, hilly places and so it is an excellent environment for them.

In addition, a large portion of the vegetation that had to be removed was Poison Ivy," said Breen. "Goats have a natural immunity to it and enjoy eating it."

Hosting a herd of goats for nearly a week had its challenges. Unlike lifeless equipment that can be turned on and off, goats have their own distinct personalities and like to do as they please. Like humans, they eat the food that they enjoy first and then, if they have room, they’ll eat the rest. Goats are also not big fans of large bodies of water, so eating so close to the canal waters took a little time for them to get used to it. "It was a learning curve to manage the goats," said Breen. "I learned a lot!"

Because goats aren’t normally seen at the Canal, they became very popular very quickly. Crowds of people came to see them munch. "Although the goats loved it, all the attention did cut into their work time," said Breen.

The arrangement was win-win; the goats got to munch on tasty invasives and no herbicides pollute the water and human workers stayed safe. The advantages of having the goats at the Canal far outweighed any minor adjustment period. "Goats can eat about one fourth of an acre in a week," said Breen. "The amount the goats cleared would have taken at last two government workers a day or two to do it by hand."

Controlling the fast growing, invasive plants that the goats ate – bittersweet, greenbrier, honeysuckle, and Poison Ivy – must be done several times a season, according to Breen. The way that the goats strip the plants actually slows down the regrowth and does not have to be attended to as often.

This was the first time the goats came to work for the Canal and by all accounts it was a success. There is a very good chance they will be invited back to dinner again next year.


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