Riverside Park gets its goats: ‘Safer than RoundUp’

BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | Goats are cleaning up another Gotham park.

The Riverside Park Conservancy unleashed 24 goats in a fenced-in stretch of Riverside Park from 119th St. to 125th St. as part of a new “Goatham” initiative.

Hopes are that the herd will finally be able to tame the unruly area, which has become overgrown due to the prevalence of viney invasive plants, poison ivy and a slope too steep for a lawnmower.

Skittles, one of the grass-guzzling crew currently busily munching in Riverside Park.

“It’s cheaper than machinery, cheaper than people with machinery and safer than RoundUp,” Larry Cihanek, owner of Green Goats Rhinebeck, told ABC news when he brought the goats to the park on May 21.

According to the Riverside Park Conservancy, the animals are a more environmentally friendly means to remove unwanted plants from a landscape and are much more efficient than humans. Goats can daily consume up to 25 percent of their body weight in vegetation, including poison ivy, and can traverse places that humans cannot.

When Brooklyn (black) and Charlie (brown) take a break from challenging each other for dominance in the Riverside Park herd, they’re busy chowing down on invasive vines and other unwanted foliage.

Goats have been used locally to get rid of invasive plants before, on Staten Island in 2012, when phragmites, an invasive reed, started choking the shoreline. In 2016, Brooklyn Bridge Park used four Nubian goats to tackle weeds, and the Prospect Park Alliance enlisted the help of goats for the same reason.

But this is the first the first time the grass-gobbling animals have been used for this purpose in Manhattan — although their close cousins, sheep, have been doing similar work for a few years in the southern part of the borough.

Skittles, left, and Ella have been horning in on the foliage-eating action in Riverside Park.

Since the summer of 2015, St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral on Mulberry St. has used three sheep to maintain the cemetery’s grass in the summer.

“They were the biggest hit,” said Frank Alfieri, a ministry director at the cathedral. “The only problem was the bi-product.”

According to Alfieri, the cathedral will be getting a new pastor this summer, and it will be up to him to decide if the bleating trio will return to the cemetery grounds again. The community is hopeful that they will be baa-aa-aa-ck.