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Twenty-four Goats Clearing Kudzu to Make Way for Trees in Boulevard Crossing Park

ATLANTA, GA (September 30, 2010) – Trees Atlanta introduced a new pilot project this week in Boulevard Crossing Park, which is being built as part of the Atlanta BeltLine. The non-profit tree planting and conservation organization brought in a herd of twenty-four goats to eat and eliminate 1.5 acres of kudzu and clear the way for future planting of native trees. Boulevard Crossing Park, located just south of Grant Park near the intersections of Boulevard and Englewood Avenues, is one of several new parks that are being created as part of the Atlanta BeltLine. The goats featured in this project are sponsored in part by a Kodak American Greenways Award, granted through a partnership between Kodak, The Conservation Fund and National Geographic.

Boulevard Crossing Park provides approximately 21.5 additional acres of greenspace to the public. Currently, a portion of this land is engulfed in kudzu which is one of the most invasive exotic plants in the southeast. Trees Atlanta is often faced with extensive invasive plant removal in the greenspaces where it works to preserve existing tree canopy and replant young trees. Typically, the non-profit citizens group uses multiple applications of herbicide to eliminate the pesky plants. Though the chemicals are applied by licensed professionals and used as sparingly as possible, Trees Atlanta is constantly seeking new invasive plant control methods that are more environmentally friendly. The Atlanta BeltLine is also a project that is implementing sustainable methods of building and maintaining new infrastructure and amenities.

“Goats offer a low-impact solution for controlling invasive plants on sites that do not contain sensitive or endangered plants as well as on steeply sloped properties,” said Trees Atlanta Forest Restoration Coordinator, Blake Watkins. “Each goat can eat 150 – 200 square feet of kudzu per day, so we expect the goats to clear this site in twenty-one days or less,” he continued. According to Watkins, Trees Atlanta’s goats are protected by a human shepherd and two guard dogs. The pilot site is surrounded by temporary fencing to keep the goats safe and on-task while they are working.

Kudzu spreads easily because its berries are a favorite food of birds and wildlife. Partially digested seeds are “planted” whenever fecal matter is deposited by these animals. Because goats are ruminants, or animals with cuds and four-chambered stomachs, they are able to eat extensive amounts of kudzu without causing it to spread. Kudzu and its seeds are no longer intact after passing through the goats’ systems.

“The Atlanta BeltLine is constantly searching for sustainable ways to develop each element of the project. Sometimes this includes new technology such as solar photovoltaic panels to produce energy or innovative new ways to capture and reuse stormwater. In this case, Trees Atlanta is using a solution that has existed for millennia – a herd of goats – but it may prove to be the most effective and sustainable way to remove kudzu,” said Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. President and CEO Brian Leary.

Trees Atlanta will share more about this project and its Forest Restoration and Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum programs during “Breakfast with the Goats” on Tuesday, October 5 from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Donations to Trees Atlanta are welcome, but the event is free and open to the public. Donuts and coffee will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Participants will park and enter along the 500 block of Englewood Avenue, SE, Atlanta, GA 30315. Those interested in attending can learn more and find a map at www.treesatlanta.org.

About Trees Atlanta

Trees Atlanta is a nationally recognized citizens group that protects and improves Atlanta’s urban environment by planting, conserving and educating. Since 1985, Trees Atlanta has planted and distributed more than 75,000 trees. Trees Atlanta has an active corps of 4,500 volunteers and offers six year-round programs to educate the public about the importance of trees.

Trees Atlanta actively works to help communities manage and improve their greenspaces through its Forest Restoration Program. The non-profit is also working closely with Atlanta BeltLine Inc, Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, the City of Atlanta and others to implement the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum, a diverse and educational collection of trees and plants incorporated into the 22-mile Atlanta BeltLine project. Once complete, the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum will be the longest linear arboretum in the nation.

Learn more about Trees Atlanta and get involved at www.treesatlanta.org or call 404-522-4097.

About the Atlanta BeltLine:

The Atlanta BeltLine is a $2.8 billion redevelopment project that will provide a network of public parks, multi‐use trails and transit along a historic 22-mile railroad corridor circling downtown and connecting many neighborhoods directly to each other. The Atlanta BeltLine is the most comprehensive economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest, most wide‐ranging urban redevelopment projects currently underway in the United States. Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI), formed by the Atlanta Development Authority, is the entity tasked with planning and executing the implementation of the Atlanta BeltLine in partnership with other public and private organizations, including City of Atlanta departments. For more information on the Atlanta BeltLine, visit www.BeltLine.org.


CONTACTS:

Ethan Davidson, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.
(404) 614-8325; edavidson@atlbeltline.org

Cheryl Kortemeier, Trees Atlanta
404-681-4895
cheryl@treesatlanta.org

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