The City of Madras will have some new employees going to work this week to reduce the risk of fire along city trails.
The city announced it has hired Martin Boer Goats from Terrebonne to clear overgrown grasses and brush along city trails naturally. It’s a pilot program that will start with portions of the Willow Creek Trail and the M Hill Trail.
About 150 goats will get things rolling Wednesday on a section of Willow Creek Trail east of 1st Street, north of “B” Street. The city said electric fencing will be put up around the area and there will be 24-hour-a-day monitoring of the herd by a goat herder and guard dogs.
During the clearing, that section of the trail will be closed and the public is asked to stay away.
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When the herd is finished with that section, the city says they will be moved to the south side of Canyon Road/”C” Street along the north side of the “M” Hill trail where it connects to the Willow Creek Canyon Trail.
Each section is anticipated to take one week to clear, the city said.
“We’re really looking forward to this pilot project,” stated Public Works Coordinator Michel Quinn. “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.”
In addition, Jefferson County Fire & EMS will be doing tree removal and tree limbing to further reduce fuels and enhance training opportunities for their staff. The city said a work crew from Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council will also be reducing fire fuels by removing dead brush material not edible by the herd.
Once the goats have cleared the areas, Public Works crews will administer treatments for noxious weeds and cheat grass to encourage regrowth of native and perennial grasses, the city said.
Jefferson County Fire & EMS and the Oregon Department of Forestry helped develop the pilot program.