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sheep governors island
Photograph: Julienne Schaer/Trust for Governors Island

A herd of sheep will be grazing on Governors Island this summer

You'll find Flour, Sam, Evening, Philip Aries and Chad in Hammock Grove.

By
Shaye Weaver
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It's going to be a woolly fun summer on Governors Island

Five fluffy sheep have been added to the island's payroll to help control a sheep-ton of invasive plants this season and they'll be munching down in Hammock Grove, so you'll literally be able to count sheep while relaxing in a hammock.

RECOMMENDED: Governors Island is officially opening on May 1 — here's what to expect

The Trust for Governors Island officially announced the sheep residency on Monday, saying that the furry friends—Flour, Sam, Evening, Chad, and Philip Aries from Friends of Tivoli Lake Preserve and Farm in Albany—will be there for the next four to five months.

Their prime target? Mugwort, phragmites and other invasive plant species will be on the menu. These plants have been crowding out other plants in the park. The sheep will help to break them down and weaken them and thus keeping them from flowering and spreading seeds, the Trust says.

"The sheep are very happy to be joining us on Governors Island for the summer, and we are thrilled to have them here," said Clare Newman, President & CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. "This innovative, environmentally friendly landscaping program will protect our Island’s plant life from invasive species while allowing our horticulture team to spend their time on more productive pursuits than weeding Hammock Grove. Our new sheep employees have arrived at the perfect time, and we welcome their contributions to help protect the natural landscapes of Governors Island."

Other areas in the city, like Prospect Park and Riverside Park, have brought in goats to help cut mow away invasive plants, but Governors Island went with sheep because they will not eat tree bark. Instead, they will eat around younger trees instead of hurting them as a goat would do. 

The gardening staff has been pruning back these invasive species but it has taken a lot of time. By bringing in sheep, the time spent on this removal will be reduced to less than 30% and allow them to focus on trees and soil in Hammock Grove.

Of course, for everyone else, the sheeps' presence will be a fun (and cute) addition to the island. They'll be fenced in where the invasive plants are, so you won't get to pet them, but admire them from a close distance. The Trust says it's an experiment this year and if all goes well, they'll be welcome back next year. 

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