Huntington, NY - June 5, 2014 - The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is implementing a new strategy to control invasive plant species at the Oak Brush Plains State Preserve at Edgewood, DEC Regional Director Peter A. Scully announced yesterday. For the first time on state lands, DEC is importing 10 goats to graze on invasive species at the 812-acre, DEC-managed property located near the shared borders of the towns of Babylon, Islip and Huntington.
“The arrival of these goats gives us a new tool in our arsenal to control invasive species on the property,” DEC Regional Director Peter A. Scully said. “Hopefully, they will bring a voracious appetite which will soon rid this section of the preserve of these quickly spreading invasive species.”
Since the demolition of the former Edgewood Hospital in the late 1980s, the property has experienced a rapid growth of invasive species such as autumn olive and mugwort that are out competing native plants in the vast savanna like former grassland areas near the site of the former hospital. In the past, groups such as the Edgewood Flyers, along with DEC personnel, have used mechanical equipment and painstaking hand-pulling efforts to remove invasive species from the central point of the property.
The 10 goats, which are a mixture of Nubian goats and domestic goats, will remain at the preserve from June until late-September. The goats will be housed within a six-acre solar powered electric fence to prevent their escape and to protect the goats from potential predators. A shelter will also be constructed for them. DEC forest rangers and natural resources staff, along with Adopt a Natural Resource groups and the owner of the goats will care for the animals during their five-month stay at the Preserve.
Funding for this pilot project was made possible through an Aid to Localities grant obtained by Assemblyman Robert K. Sweeney.
Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) said: “Rather than use polluting chemicals this is a creative, natural way of controlling invasive species that will not be harmful to our groundwater. Bon Appetit!”
Using goats is a natural way to remove invasive species can be highly effective because they typically devour not only the tops of plants but also their root systems, lessening the chance for plants to regenerate. Goats typically eat three to five pounds of vegetation per day. Once the goats finish their browsing season, DEC staff will evaluate the results and may attempt to replant the area with native species in the following growing seasons.
Invasive species are non-native species that can harm the environment, the economy or human health. Invasive species are one of the greatest threats to New York's biodiversity. They cause or contribute to:
- habitat degradation and loss;
- loss of native fish, wildlife and tree species;
- loss of recreational opportunities and income; and
- crop damage and diseases in humans and livestock.
The Oak Brush Plains State Preserve at Edgewood is dominated by pitch pine-scrub oak barrens, interspersed with areas of grassland and stands of bigtooth aspen. The preserve is home to many common animal species including several types of warblers, red-tailed hawks, eastern cottontail, red fox and hognose snakes. In addition, several species of rare invertebrates are present including the coastal barrens buckmoth. The preserve provides many recreational opportunities to the public including hiking, bird watching and bike riding.
The preserve is maintained and improved through the continuous efforts of DEC, the towns of Babylon, Huntington and Islip and volunteer stewards including the Edgewood Flyers, as well as members Concerned Long Island Mountain Bikers (CLIMB) and Long Island Greenways and Healthy Trails (LIGHT). Their cooperative efforts led to the removal of tons of illegally dumped waste, blocking unlawful access routes and constructing new parking facilities. Efforts will continue to maintain and improve the preserve as well as allow access and recreation for the community.
To use the preserve, individuals must obtain a free, DEC three-year seasonal access permit at DEC’s Stony Brook office, or by visiting DEC’s website.