The OFS has declared war.

Our campus has been invaded by a crafty and destructive enemy. Invasive plant species, such as bush honeysuckle, Japanese honeysuckle, and Chinese privet have taken root in our natural zones, crowding out native species and threatening the indigenous biota.

Since these plants have no natural predators in their new environments, they are able to grow much faster than their native neighbors. Left unchecked, these invasive species can overrun an area, destroying the biodiversity and harming native animals – including pollinators – that rely on the native ecosystem plants.

This summer, the Office for Sustainability is launching a campaign against these invaders of our beautiful campus. The Oak Ridge Trail, running from Harmon to Garland Avenue, has been selected as the premier battleground. However, removing invasive species is no easy task, with plants often boasting deep roots and even poisonous leaves. To tackle these pernicious plants, the OFS is employing the help of some unconventional specialists.

Image result for greedy goats nwa

Greedy Goats, a local business based in Washington County,  has developed an ingenious lawn care model employing goats to do what goats do best: EAT.

As their website explains, “Goats browse.  That means they like to eat leaves–especially from unwanted non-native invasive plant species like Bush Honeysuckle, English Ivy, Multiflora Rose, Privet, Japanese Honeysuckle, Bradford Pears, Climbing Euonymus, Poison Ivy, Blackberry, and Black Locust. They just love these invasive plants!” Once the leaves are eaten off the plants, it will be much easier for a wave of humans to later clear and uproot the rest of the underbrush.

Goats are “the original Brush Hog”, but instead of requiring fossil fuels to run, goats use the invasive species themselves for fuel. Greedy Goats has their herd for hire, bringing these hungry landscapers around the county to help fight back unruly growths and combat invasive species. You may have seen the herd at work munching at Wilson Park or guest appearances at Tri Cycle Farms and at the Mount Sequoyah Center on Rural Friendship Day!

Students communing with the Greedy Goats on Oak Ridge

Using goats to aid in invasive removal is additionally beneficial to the native ecosystem in that the goat hooves help aerate the soil while their droppings act as fertilizer for the native plants to recolonize the area.

Greedy Goats will be in the area removing much of the green vegetation of our invasive plants Tue-Fri, May 22-25, 10am-4pm.

Stop by the Goat Zone this week to visit the goats and learn about the invasive removal initiative

Join the OFS June 2nd for a volunteer day to uproot the invaders and return the Oak Ridge Trail to its natural state! Sign Up on Give Pulse.

Busy that day? Don’t worry. The OFS and partner organizations frequently host work days to remove invasives in targeted areas. These events rely heavily on volunteers.

You can also do your part by opting to plant native varieties instead of invasive plants.  Follow this link to check out Fayetteville’s guide to invasive plants and their native counterparts.