Goat Vegetation Control to Close Gravel Trail at Mill Creek - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Goat Vegetation Control to Close Gravel Trail at Mill Creek

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WALLA WALLA, Wash. - The gravel trail on the south side of the Mill Creek channel will temporarily close for several days of vegetation management. 

The trail will close to visitors from Saturday, July 20, through Monday, July 29, while a herd of about 70 goats eats away at the plants growing on the levee side of the south shoreline extending from the Mill Creek diversion dam downstream to the metal division works foot bridge near the Mill Creek Office. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say this project allows the staff to safely inspect the levee at times of flood risks. 

"Goat grazing is an effective way to control vegetation," said Alex Colter, project manager for Mill Creek's vegetation management project. "Using goats eliminates the need for chemicals or burning on creekbanks, and the goats are far more agile than people in steep, rocky areas." Colter says grazing also lessens future maintenance by reducing seed production.

The company, Healing Hooves of Edwall, Washington has signed a $2,500 contract for the word. The company uses electric fencing, shepherds and professional working dogs to keep the goats corralled while working in the vegetation-maintenance zone. 

All visitors' dogs must be leashed at all times while walking on the north (paved) side of Mill Creek and in Rooks Park. The metal division works foot bridge near the Mill Creek Office will be open for use during this time.

In-water recreational activities in the Mill Creek channel along the vegetation removal zone will also be put on hold, because the working dogs may perceive them as a threat to the herd.

Visitors and their dogs can play in the water downstream of the metal division works foot bridge. 

"Visitors should not attempt to approach the goats or working dogs -- young goats will be present and the mamas are pretty protective. So are the working dogs," said Chris Alford, a park ranger at the Mill Creek Office. "These are not pet goats; they can be pretty skittish if people get too close. We ask the public to keep their distance and let them do their job of eating the weeds and brambles off of the levee."

The horse trailer parking and turn-around area just east of the Mill Creek Project office will also be closed while the goats are on site.  Visitors with horse trailers are encouraged to park at the Bennington Lake parking lot if they plan to ride horses on Mill Creek Dam and Bennington Lake lands during this period.