Goats to help tend historic grave sites in the nation’s capital

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Forget the dog days of August. It’s goat days of Washington.

In the very near future, the historic, 207-year-old Congressional Cemetery in the nation’s capital will be neatened up by a herd of hoofed helpers.


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The non-profit Association for the Preservation of Historic Congressional Cemetery has partnered with a gaggle of 100 grazing goats, who will trim the exterior perimeters of the site from Aug. 7-12 as an “innovative green project.”

Indeed. The goats will graze 24 hours a day for six days, scarfing up vines, poison ivy, ground cover and random debris, “all the while fertilizing the ground,” organizers say.

“The revolutionary use of eco-goats eliminates the need for harmful herbicides and prevents the invasive and often foreign species from killing large mature trees in the cemetery’s wooded area, which can fall onto the grounds as a result and damage invaluable historic headstones,” the association says.

“This is also the first time we have found a suitable partner for a project inside the Beltway,” says Brian Knox, owner and supervising forester of Maryland-based Eco-Goats, home of the herd in question.

There are 65,000 people buried in the privately owned, 35-acre cemetery some 20 blocks from the U.S. Capitol. In all, the silent population includes 16 senators, 68 members of the House, and Vice Presidents Elbridge Gerry and George Clinton, according to the National Park Service.

Among the other famous buried there are FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover, the “March King” John Philip Sousa, Civil War photographer Matthew Brady ,and Push-ma-ta-ha, chief of the Choctaw Indian tribe.

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