Chastain Park supporters welcomed the latest weapon in their battle to rid the park of invasive plants Friday morning: 100 sheep and goats that will try to eat away the problem.
Matt Otten, incoming board chairman for the Chastain Park Conservancy, said the animals will be at work for the next two weeks to reduce the amount of kudzu and bamboo in a two-acre area of the park.
"They're going to be next to the Galloway School and the master grill area right next to Wieuca [Road]," he said. "We have sheep-herding dogs that will keep them from roaming in the neighborhoods and keep any coyotes from attacking the sheep." In addition, he said, a low-voltage electric fence will discourage the sheep from going astray.
Otten said the conservancy, which is being assisted by Trees Atlanta, has so far relied on volunteer efforts to clear out the problem vegetation.
"In fact, this week we had 80 young boys and girls from College Station, Texas, in the park doing a community service event ... so we rely on volunteers, but the sheep and goat are much more effective, and will work 24/7, and it's pretty hard to get a volunteer to do that."
Some 650 neighbors and other visitors turned out Friday to welcome the sheep and goats.
Anne Boatwright of Atlanta brought her three sons, Matthew, 15, Nicholas, 13, and Wesley, 8, out to see the animals.
"I love England, with all the sheep, and sheep just make me happy," she said. "We thought it was a really positive community event ... I love the low-impact [environmental] decision. I totally support it."
Adrienne Hobbs, who brought her daughters, Vivi, 4, and Daphne, 6, said she "thought it was really neat that we'd go back to the old way of doing things and have sheep eating the grass. It's cool for the environment."
Bethany Clark, spokeswoman for Trees Atlanta, said her organization employs sheep and goats on many of its projects as "an environmentally friendly approach ... that folds into our forest restoration program. It's all part of keeping our urban forests healthy."
The sheep and goats came from Eweniversally Green, a Stone Mountain company. Otten said the cost of bringing the animals in, shared by the CPC and Trees Atlanta, was over $1,000. He said anyone wanting to contribute to the effort can do so at the CPC website. Contributions can also be made at the Trees Atlanta website.
Otten said he could see only one problem arising from the project: "They're probably going to produce a lot of Chastain Park poop."
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