Midway through a 9-to-5 workday on Wednesday (Sept. 24), Gavin Burseth had nothing but praise for the crew he was overseeing: a dedicated herd of goats working nonstop to clear poison ivy and less-itchy invasive species from a forest preserve campground near Warrenville, Ill., the Chicago Tribune reported.

Burseth, an ambitious 16-year-old from Bartlett, is working toward earning the Boy Scouts of America’s prestigious William T. Hornaday Award, which recognizes significant contributions to conservation. And he was relying on 38 of 45 goats he keeps on a Woodstock farm to help make it happen.

With the aid of his brother, Derek, 30, Burseth released the goats on a quarter-acre in the center of the campground at the Blackwell Forest Preserve, where poison ivy is a chronic problem, particularly for unknowing campers.

Munching began immediately.

Gavin Burseth, a student at South Elgin High School, said the biggest problem area was around the water pump that campers frequent, and along the path connecting the 64 camp sites. But the goats, confined by a temporary fence, had eaten that clear of vegetation by noon. The voracious grazers have strong stomachs and experts say they have no problem digesting poison ivy.

Goats have been used for landscape control in other Chicagoland areas. But officials from the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County said this kind of biological control, as opposed to chemical or mechanical control, had not been used before on their land.

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