Weed-Eating Ecologist to Lead Grazing Parties in N.Y. Parks

Associated Press

Steven (Wildman) Brill, the ecologist whose taste for weeds ran him afoul of the law, decided today that if you can't eat 'em, join 'em.

Brill, who was arrested in March for picking and eating wild plants in Central Park, is the newest employee of the city Parks Department, Commissioner Henry Stern announced.

"I am glad Steve has agreed to curb his appetite in keeping with the department's concerns about rare and toxic plants," said Stern, who was joined by Brill at a news conference in the park. "Now people who want to savor some of our parks' plant species can do so--but only on his supervised walks."

Brill will receive $15 an hour to lead eating tours of city parks, which he has done on his own since 1981. Brill picks out edible weeds and plants on his tours and chows down with the sightseers joining in.

Brill will work 20 hours a week, and his first tour will be Saturday at Van Cortlandt Park, Stern said. Brill and Stern took a brief eating trip around Central Park, followed by reporters, after the announcement.

The city tours will be free--Brill charged $20 for his four-hour trips--and will be limited to 20 people per trip.

Brill, who traded in his pith helmet and "Wildman" T-shirt for a Parks Department hat and shirt at the news conference, appeared pleased by the agreement.

As part of the agreement, the criminal mischief charges against Brill were dropped today in Criminal Court, both sides said.

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