A Scapegoats team member approaches the camera to get a better look Wednesday near the Lincoln Street boat ramp. The goats are back for another two-week job ridding the area of invasive plant species and other vegetation. Chance Viles / American Journal

The goats have returned to Lincoln Street in Westbrook for another two-week stint eating up invasive plants and other vegetation as part of the public boat launch revamp.

Nine goats are expected to clear another half-acre of vegetation over the next few weeks, said Heather Lombard, herder-in-chief of West Kennebunk-based Scapegoats. In just a few rainy weeks in late July Lombard’s goats ate plants over a half-acre in another section of the area, which is near the city’s new four-season rink.

A goat gets to work Wednesday. Chance Viles / American Journal

“They did down the trail before it gets to a bridge; they cleared that up. They did quite a big section on the trail,” Lombard said. “We are doing two more sections where they are now (right behind the rink), and then we are going to do the trail again closer to the entrance.”

Volunteers stopping by to check on the goats, which live onsite in a temporarily fenced-in area, have been helpful, she said.  The city provides two volunteers each day to make sure the goats haven’t escaped and have enough water to drink, and Scapegoats conducts its own checkups throughout the day as well.

Mayor Mike Foley is one of the volunteer checkers.

It’s definitely interesting to see how productive they have been and the progress they made with the invasive species,” Foley said. “To go down one day, then another, and see what they accomplished was really cool. It’s a cool option to have to address those issues instead of bulldozers.”

The goats are very social, he said.

Wayne Barter and Alana Saleeby of Scapegoats prepare Wednesday to move the goats to their new grazing location near the Lincoln Street boat ramp. Chance Viles / American Journal

“They come over, want to check out what you are doing,” Foley said. “There was one time I couldn’t find one, and they had some cookies there you shake and they all come. They all ran up. One was just lying down somewhere.”

Lombard said the assignment has gone smoothly, with no interference from other animals or people.

“I was pleasantly surprised that everyone has been really respectful,” Lombard said. “We’ve had no issues and the people in the city are really interested in what’s going on.”

She’s even got calls from residents interested in renting the goats for their own projects, she said. 

The goats will be in Westbrook until Aug. 27.

The city hired Lombard and her goats for $3,000 for a total of four weeks as part of its $267,000 project to improve the area around the boat ramp.

In addition to ridding the area of invasive plant species, the improvement project includes erosion control, paving the shared parking lot with the Lincoln Street four-season rink, new lighting, a revamped boat ramp and a new city-owned shed where kayaks and canoes will be available to rent.

Once the goats clear the vegetation, construction on the boat ramp should start in September and wrap up this construction season, according to City Project Manager Robyn Saunders.

The goats eat brush and vegetation around them, but will leave branches and roots to be cleared. Chance Viles / American Journal

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