Managing invasive species with prescribed browsing

It's called the prescribed browsing project and it's in its third year.

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Managing invasive species in West Michigan is something every parks and recreation has to deal with.

But it's up to them how they do that.

Lawnmowers and chemicals are one solution, but in Ottawa County they're trying something more natural.

Oriental bittersweet and poison ivy are two invasive plants Ottawa County wants out of their Eastmanville Bayou and Riverside Parks.

"So we have a choice of either using chemicals, which we don't really want to use right next to Grand River, or using goats," said Melanie Manion, Natural Resource Management Supervisor of Ottawa County.

It's called the prescribed browsing project and it's in its third year.

"They eat the problem so basically they're helping by eating the plants that are creating problems with the native plants that are out-competing our native plants," said Manion.

The goats go through about an acre a week all summer.

They're managed by an intern made possible through a grant, and have help from several volunteers, meaning it costs the county next to nothing.

"And I think that people are impressed and happy that we aren't using herbicide to treat all these plants. This is just so much more natural way and it's a much more adorable way to treat what's going on in the parks," said Jessica Vanginhoven of Ottawa County Parks and Recreation.

But it's not just the parks benefiting from the project.

"They have a wonderful quality of life they things that they can climb over they can play they go along the steep hillside," said Manion.

And the goats make for a fun pit stop on an afternoon hike.

"You can't visit the goats without smiling," said Manion.

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