Have you Herd? Mountain Creek Shepherds a New Era in Ski Area Management, with Help from Goats and Sheep

The New Jersey resort is "goatscaping" this summer to take care of the land, thanks to a herd of goats and sheep.


When you think of GOATs to come out of New Jersey, Danny Kass, Kevin Casillo, and Timothy Karpinski immediately come to mind. For these three, among many others, it was the trails of Mountain Creek that incubated their relentless appetite for boarding, ushering in a wave of Mid-Atlantic influence on snowboarding that continues to this day. Now, a new crop of goats is having a field day at the Garden State’s favorite resort, arguably even hungrier than any others to come before them.

Hungrier for greenery, that is, because the newest crew to call Creek home is a trip of goats–25 Nigerian Dwarf goats and 3 sheep, actually–whose job is to “goatscape” the trails. What is goatscaping? It’s actually a centuries-old technique for natural landscaping. Goats aren’t picky eaters; nearly anything leafy and green works for them and their stomachs are hardy, equipped to digest even otherwise dangerous plants like poison ivy and sumac, among others. Utilizing goats to maintain land is an organic and environmentally friendly alternative to weed-killing chemicals.

Steve the head goat. p: Chris Vanderyajt

In May, Mountain Creek hired this crop of hooved helpers and let them ruminate at their own pace on the resort grounds. So far, they’ve taken the job seriously while enjoying billy goating around steep sections and rocky outcroppings. Seasonal workers, they’ll head back to their farms in October, but not before their herd increases throughout the summer and autumn months. In an article in the NJ Herald, Chris Haggerty, Creek’s assistant general manager, explained how the mountain plans to staff up, saying that “In the fall we’re looking at possibly having upwards of 50 to 80 goats.”

goats graze at Mountain Creek, NJ The Creek goats graze on the grounds. p: Pat Morgan

Pat Morgan, director of marketing at Creek, is sure-footed in his support of his four-legged co-workers. “Goats. They’re delightfully weird and are absolute party animals when it comes to cleaning our canvas,” says Pat. “It’s beyond impressive how much of an impact they can make on our operation when it comes to clearing grass and weeds. These team members eat, sleep, repeat all day, and we couldn’t be happier with their presence!”

Pat Morgan and Rodney the goat at Mountain Creek, NJ
Pat Morgan and Rodney the goat.

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