Once the world’s largest landfill, New York City’s Freshkills Park is now on its way to becoming one of the city’s largest parks. The next step in restoring the area’s wetlands: removing invasive weeds, with the help of a crew of rented goats.

The park is filled with a plant called phragmites, an invasive species introduced from Europe in the 19th century. The weed has pushed out native species and caused brush fires, and it’s nearly impossible to eliminate. By renting a small herd of goats, the city is trying a new approach to restoration. Over the next six weeks, the goats will eat the phragmites, preparing the area for more treatment to eliminate the weeds.

Some experts say the goats might not be the best solution, since they like eating the leaves of the plant but not the stem. The plants also grow along the shoreline, and goats don’t like to get their hooves wet. Still, the park managers are optimistic. If the goats are successful, they may stay in the park permanently. In addition to eating weeds, they can also help replace lawnmowers in the 2,200 acre park.

Freshkills Park, with the Manhattan skyline far in the distance.

Freshkills Park will open to the public in two or three years. Along with the goats, the park will have several other sustainable features, including composting toilets, rain gardens, green roofs, and a native seed garden.

Main and second image credit: Flickr user kpaulus