MADRAS, OR -- Following successful programs in Redmond and Bend, Madras is using goats to clear hazardous fuels from city property. Starting Wednesday, about 150 goats will converge on a section of Willow Creek Trail, east of First Street and north of "B" Street. They’ll graze on overgrown brush and weeds for about a week, and then move to the north side of the "M" Hill Trail.
Officials say the animals are safer, cheaper, more effective and quieter than using heavy equipment.
While the goats are working, the area will be sectioned off with electric fencing and the herd will be monitored 24/7 by a human goat herder and guard dogs. The section of affected trail will be closed during the operation and people are asked to stay clear during these time periods. The City will post notices at the affected trailheads and on Facebook.
“We’re really looking forward to this pilot project,” Public Works Coordinator Michel Quinn said in a statement. “This type of program has been highly successful in other areas and if it works well for us, it’s something all of us on the team are willing to utilize for future projects.”
Crews from Jefferson County Fire & EMS will perform tree removal and tree limbing to further reduce fuels and enhance training opportunities for their staff. In addition, a work crew from Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council will take out dead brush material not edible by the herd.
Once the goats have cleared the areas, Public Works will treat for noxious weeds and cheat grass to encourage regrowth of native and perennial grasses.