On a beautiful May morning at the Norman J. Levy Park & Preserve in Merrick, Supervisor Don Clavin welcomed a group of new members of the Town of Hempstead team – five baby goats and two sheep. These new additions will join the existing team of Nigerian dwarf goats to continue the ongoing effort to reduce weeds and overgrowth at the popular 50-acre preserve.
This bolstered team of Nigerian dwarf goats are now joined by two sheep that are a special breed that are a cross between Barbados Blackbelly and domestic-type sheep. The group of baby goats and the pair of sheep will be raised together and will be sharing the duties as “natural lawnmowers,” chomping on weeds and grass at the preserve.
Clavin was joined by Councilwoman Melissa “Missy” Miller, Town Clerk Kate Murray, Receiver Jeanine Driscoll and members of the Levy Preserve Rangers to unveil the new goats and sheep.
“We’re thrilled to welcome these new goats and sheep, who will be new, popular attractions here at the Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve, and also important members of the team to keep this ecological gem clean and beautiful,” Clavin said. “As the weather improves, I encourage residents to visit our preserve right here in Merrick to take a nice, leisurely walk along the trail and to simply enjoy the beauty of nature.”
The Barbados Blackbelly sheep are distinguished for their hair instead of wool that are typically associated with domestic sheep and are smaller in size. Nigerian dwarf goats have been a part of the Levy Park family for over a decade. While the dwarf goats are smaller than other goat breeds, they have a friendly and playful demeanor and improve landscapes by eating weeds, shrubs and overgrown grass.
The Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve is a landfill-turned-preserve that was opened to the public in 2000. This ecological gem converted what was the former Merrick landfill into a plant and wildlife sanctuary that has served as a tranquil respite and nature trail for residents for over two decades.
In addition to three miles of hiking and jogging trails, the preserve features a windmill, a 500-foot fishing pier into Merrick Bay, a kayak launch and tremendous views of the New York City skyline and Jones Beach tower at the highest point of 155 feet. The Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve is open year round (weather permitting) and is located at 1600 Merrick Road in Merrick. The current hours between the months of May to August are from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
“The Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve is no longer a secret gem – thousands flock to this beautiful trail weekly,” Clavin said. “But if you have not made a visit here, I welcome you to take a trip with your family and even stop by and say hello to our goats and sheep.”