New England News Releases

USACE hosts open house August 1 in Oxford, Mass., for Hodges Village Dam Master Plan revision
7/5/2024 UPDATED
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District will host an open house August 1, 2024, in Oxford, Mass., to kick off a process to revise the 1976 Hodges Village Dam Master Plan for the Hodges...
USACE hosts open house July 31 in Monson, Mass., for Conant Brook Dam Master Plan revision
7/5/2024 UPDATED
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District will host an open house July 31, 2024, in Monson, Mass., to kick off a process to revise the 1998 Conant Brook Dam Master Plan for the Conant...
USACE hosts open house July 30 in Uxbridge, Mass., for West Hill Dam Master Plan revision
7/5/2024 UPDATED
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District will host an open house July 30, 2024, in Uxbridge, Mass., to kick off a process to revise the 2011 West Hill Dam Master Plan for the West Hill...

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

Regulatory Division preserving Mobile District’s water resources
6/5/2024
The Regulatory Division is one of the more public faces of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District. The Regulatory Division is responsible for protecting the nation’s aquatic resources and...
USACE delivering National EOC to coordinate Togo disaster response
7/2/2024 UPDATED
Senior Togolese officials from the Ministry of Security and the National Civil Protection Agency (ANPC, based on its official name in French - l'Agence Nationale de la Protection Civile) joined...
Huntsville Center recognized as top workplace from Federal survey feedback
6/24/2024
Operating from its new 205,000 square foot facility headquarters facility at Redstone Arsenal’s secured Redstone Gateway, the Center has consistently received high marks in the FEVS...

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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