May 29, 2009
Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest. That is what Maryland's State Highway Administration (SHA) is hoping, anyway. In order to build a highway bypass around an endangered turtle, the state is counting on goats and sheep for help.
One small herd of sheep and goats are living just off a new Route 30 bypass in Hampstead, where road work is nearly done, but their work is just beginning--if you call eating work. But it is exactly what is needed to get federal money for the new road.
"We have to comply with federal requirements in order to get those funds, and there are a lot of environmental hoops we need to jump through," said SHA Environmental Analyst Bill Branch.
The major hurdle turned out to be a turtle, specifically a bog turtle. Biologists look for them in swampy areas and they are a rare find, so much so that they are an endangered species. That was enough to force the bypass to move around the turtles.
But to build it, their habitat must still be improved, so the state is turning to goats and sheep to eat back invasive plants. The goats and sheep will graze until August, when they will return to their farm. If needed for more weeding, they will be brought back next spring.
Reprinted in part from WJZ-TV