Morven Park’s 1,000 acres of woods, pastures, and open spaces are a natural oasis for deer, foxes, squirrels and rabbits. For decades, horses have been a common sight here, and more recently, domesticated turkeys have joined their wild cousins on the property.
But for a few weeks beginning June 6, an animal of a different sort will be found at this historic site … goats. These are not just ordinary goats, though; known as “eco-goats,” they travel from property to property, munching away at nuisance plants, especially those invasive species that tend to choke out native vegetation.
The eco-goats, supervised by Deb Dramby, market and education coordinator at Willowsford Farm in Ashburn, will concentrate their efforts on the mountainous ridgeline, along two new hiking trails that open to the public on June 7.
Best known at Willowsford as its “resident goat expert,” Dramby explains that the goats offer an efficient and environmentally friendly solution to controlling problem vegetation. “If left alone, invasive plants take over our woodlands, strangling valuable trees and threatening important diversity,” she says. “Goats are agile and can be gentler than machinery when working on historic sites like Morven Park.” Plus their waste makes great fertilizer!
Among the many plants they prefer to eat are poison ivy, mile-a-minute plant, Japanese stiltgrass, and Japanese honeysuckle, all of which have been identified within Morven Park’s ridgeline.