February 21, 2020

Ravenous Goats Making Quick Work of Hyde Park Poison Ivy

There are new landscapers in town and they’re not human.

Last month, the Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation decided there was so much poison ivy in the area that it was deemed unsafe for children. So, they thought, let’s round up the goats, which are provided by a company that actually specializes in goat rentals for garden projects.

Patricia Alvarez, who works for the Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation, told Boston.com, “They love it. It’s like candy.”

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According to The Boston Globe, goats have been employed in Hyde Park to do some landscaping, sorry, “goatscaping.”

“The contract called for the goats to chomp their way to the point where the ‘targeted vegetation … will be no more than 4 inches high, with the exception of woody stems or vines with stems one half centimeter or thicker.’”

Yes, there was a contract.

“The site was once seen as an eyesore,” Ryan Woods, director of external affairs at the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, told The Boston Globe. “Now [the goats] have turned it into a place that people actually want to go to.”

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Ravenous Goats Making Quick Work of Hyde Park Poison Ivy

Lincoln Woods project in Rutherford hits poison ivy snag again

Poison ivy grows on a tree in the Lincoln Woods off West Pierrepont Avenue. This photo was taken two weeks ago.

Staff photo/Jaimie Winters

Poison ivy grows on a tree in the Lincoln Woods off West Pierrepont Avenue. This photo was taken two weeks ago.

Poison ivy growing in the Lincoln Woods has once again posed a dilemma for volunteers and officials looking to turn the property into an educational park. Construction of pathways and benches are presently on hold to address the vegetation, as the Shade Tree Committee and borough discuss how to move forward.

The volunteer Shade Tree Committee and Lincoln School community have been working since 2010 to turn the 1.8-acre Lincoln Woods, located behind the Lincoln School between West Pierrepont and Vreeland avenues, into an outdoor learning center for the nearby Lincoln School. The property was designated a permanent open space Green Acres property in 1985. But the property has been over run with poison ivy.

Aiming for a less expensive option that would not involve widespread herbicide treatment, goats were deployed to the site in June 2013 and October 2012 to chomp on poison ivy and other growth. Lawrence Cihanek, owner of Green Goats in Rhinebeck, N.Y., and his bearded, hungry herd of 15 were hired to take out the weeds, clearing a good portion of the property. According to borough officials at the time, Rutherford paid $3,420 for each visit for the animals and fencing, paid for through fundraising by the school. Seasons have come and gone since, but the poison ivy has returned.

The next phase would involve construction of a pathway through the property. However, as council members noted at their most recent meeting, the site is presently overgrown with poison ivy. A trail that would run through the woods with a wooden boardwalk leading over a swampy patch of land near Carmita Avenue, some small clearings with logs for benches, informational signs identifying local flora and even a small semi-circle for outdoor lessons have been proposed. Site design was provided by a landscape designer through the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC).

In his opinion, path work cannot begin until the poison ivy is cleared, Shade Tree Committee and DPW council liaison Jack Manzo said. On June 12, a lawn care contractor working for the borough inspected the site.

“We’re going to have to go in with a machine and clean it up or go in with heavy-duty weed wackers and do it by hand,” Manzo said. “With machines you have to be careful that you don’t take down little saplings hiding behind some of the growth, so it might be better to do it by hand.”

Manzo said it’s possible the work would be done over the course of the summer and likely done in-house by the Public Works Department.

In preparation for the next phase of the Lincoln Woods Project, the borough advertised and received bids for pending work. The highest was submitted by Atlas Tree Service at $20,800, the median bid by Sunset Ridge Landscaping at $16,500 and the lowest by Schule Landscaping at $8,800. A memo from the purchasing department indicated the lowest bidder Schule Landscaping attended a pre-quote meeting on May 9 and is aware of the work specification and project schedule.

As Manzo explained, the phase would involve installation of two winding, six-foot wide paths covered in woodchips that will meet towards the center with two different clearings with log benches. Access gates for the public and school will be included.

Due to the uncertainty raised by the poison ivy conditions, the council has yet to award a contract.

“This is a natural area, the idea is to have signage to stay on the trail and we want to have signage educating people about poison ivy, such as how to recognize it,” said Carol Hsu of the Shade Tree Committee. “It will never be poison ivy-free, it’s something we have to watch out for. It even happens in people’s backyards. I think there’s a difference of opinion on how much of the poison ivy must be cleared before the trail can be built.”

Bid specs recently advertised did include clearing of the ivy for the 6-foot-wide trails and border areas, for the safety of residents. The committee intends to ask the borough to spray herbicides between two and three times a year to eventually bring the ivy under control, a recommendation made by the NJMC and Shade Tree Department, Hsu said.

The Shade Tree Committee is comfortable with allowing the Department of Public Works to treat the site prior to the trail work starting, granted the next phase is only delayed a few weeks, Hsu said.

“We were hoping to have the trail in by summer, but we’d like to have something since a lot of people donated to this project, and we want them to be able to enjoy the property,” Hsu said.

Hsu is optimistic that the borough and committee can decide on the next step this week during their scheduled meeting, expressing optimism in the renewed communication due to Manzo’s attendance at their meetings. The previous liaison did not attend, she said.

Progress was also made in spring through hazard tree removal – ones at risk of falling and others that were infested with poison ivy, Hsu said.

Donations by the public and a state grant are planned to finance Lincoln Woods.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection awarded a Green Acres grant for the Lincoln Woods and Memorial Field projects combined in early 2013.

Rutherford falls into our Densely Populated Municipality category, and therefore, is eligible for a 25 percent grant and up to a 75 percent loan, with a total estimate for both projects combined at $1.02 million, explained NJDEP spokesperson Robert Considine. The grant itself came to $256,000, and a loan of $194,000 was approved by the state.

In October 2013, the Rutherford Council passed a bond ordinance allocating $256,000 in general bonds for improvements at Memorial Field and Lincoln Woods together. A donation of about $15,000 was made this spring by the Rutherford Education Foundation for the woods project, and over the last few years, funding has also been raised by the Lincoln School PTA.

The Green Acres grant has yet to change hands from the state to Rutherford.

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Lincoln Woods project in Rutherford hits poison ivy snag again

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