The Goats are Back at Big Lake Park!

For the second time this year, The City of Council Bluffs Parks and Recreation Department has hired a crew of four-legged seasonal employees to help clear unwanted vegetation. Currently, 45 goats are working to clear a five-acre area along the northern section of Big Lake Park in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Earlier this year, 55 goats successfully cleared four acres of weeds and brush along the riverfront at Tom Hanafan River's Edge Park. After the goats finished, Park Maintenance crews removed and mulched the tree debris to reuse it throughout the Council Bluffs parks.

"Bringing in a herd of goats is a cost-effective and eco-friendly way to clear the brush from the area," said Vincent Martorello, City of Council Bluffs Parks and Recreation Department Director. "While the goats clean up these overgrown areas, our crews can work on other projects. After the goats have taken down the brush, our crews will go in and remove larger logs and debris."

Goats eat approximately 4% of their body weight daily, taking care of noxious weeds such as nettles and poison ivy, which do not remain viable after passing through a goat's digestive system. The goats also eliminate the need for spraying poisonous herbicides and mowing, thus reducing fossil fuels and CO2 emissions.

"With the help of the goats, we're able to restore this area of Big Lake Park by opening sightlines and giving park goers a greater sense of security while walking through the paths."

Goats on the Go owners, Matt and Jocelyn Vermeersch, monitor the goats to ensure the availability of drinking water and access to minerals.

Anyone interested in seeing the goats in action can stop by Big Lake Park and check them out, but please don't approach the fenced area.

This post was originally published on October 4, 2022 on the Unleash Council Bluffs blog.