Goats Return to Congressional Cemetery

In Congressional Cemetery, goats are back. 

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Congressional Cemetery on Thursday brought 30 dairy goats to the historic Washington, D.C. landmark, where many members of Congress who died in office are buried. The goats will graze the perimeter of the property and chow down on vines, poison ivy, ground cover and even debris.

This is the second time goats will help with groundskeeping at the cemetery. Two years ago, the goats found success in their efforts to nibble away at the cemetery’s troublesome plants.

"This project combines natural and cultural resources, providing the perfect solution for us, since we are located so close to the Anacostia River edge," cemetery president Paul K. Williams said.

Transporting the goats from Prosperity Acres in Sunderland, Md. eliminates the need for harmful herbicides at the cemetery, association officials said. It keeps invasive species from growing too thickly and taking over the cemetery’s large wooded area. If the invasive species do grow too thickly, they can strangle tall trees and cause them to fall onto valuable and historic headstones.
But the goats aren't only handling the invasive species issue -- they're also helping honey bees, association officials said. When there are fewer invasive plants, there is more room for native plant species to thrive. Bees rely on these native plants for pollination purposes.

Williams said the cemetery must exercise extra caution because of its proximity to the river and its membership-only, off-leash dog walking program.

Visitors can check out the grazing goats from dawn until dusk through August 20.

The Congressional Cemetery (1801 E St. SE) has posted signs to steer visitors to the goat area. For more information, follow the Congressional Cemetery on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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