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Back in 1864, famed Central Park landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux were going for a bucolic English countryside look when they imported 200 sheep to graze on a lush 15-acre pasture, giving birth to the park's Sheep Meadow. There, the herbivores trimmed, frolicked, and fertilized. Some 80 years later, I think it's high time to let their cousins in on the action. That's right. I'm proposing goats in city parks. According to a recent Wall Street Journal piece by Gwendolyn Bounds, goats aren't just good for milk and cheese; they're a great alternative for anyone trying to reduce their carbon footprint. While this idea isn't new, increased interest has sparked a cottage industry of goat rental outfits. Individuals as well as corporations and non-profits, including Google, Yahoo, and the Vanderbilt Mansion, a national historic site in New Hyde Park, NY, have hired goats to tame their expanses in a way that uses fewer toxins and machinery. As Christina Page, Yahoo's director of Climate and Energy Strategy, told Treehugger in June, "We opted for a creative -- and greener -- alternative to spraying the weeds with pesticides." While the jury's still out as to how goats stack up against flatulent, ozone-destroying cows, some studies show goat methane emissions to be less than bovines'. Check out this "fart chart." To be sure, there are downsides to goats. Some plants, including azaleas, are toxic to the animals; there's the potential for unhappy neighbors, zoning boards, and predators, Fido included; and, last but not least, you're talking a whole lotta poop. Still, Bounds is "dying to try" goats on her two acres in the Upper Hudson Valley. She says her poison ivy and brush are "no sweat" for the animals and has her eye on Glynwood, a local sustainable farm that's considering its own goat rental operation next year. But back to those Central Park sheep. Turns out that in 1934, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses sent them packing to Brooklyn's Prospect Park, Olsted, and Vaux's other New York masterpiece, making way for the creatures' fanciful barn to be turned into Tavern on the Green. I'm lucky enough to live five minutes from Prospect Park. During one walk through the Long Meadow, I couldn't help but imagine goats and sheep dotting the hillside. Now all we have to do is get the dogs used to the idea. photo: Joshua Tretakoff