250 goats graze on overgrown brush to control flooding along Asotin Creek

ASOTIN, WA - Many folks have taken notice of a large group of animals that you don't see very often along Asotin Creek.

"Using animals to heal the land," said Healing Hooves owner Craig Madsen.

Madsen and his pets hail from the little town of Edwall, Washington. All 250 of his goats came to Asotin on Sunday, as part of a natural vegetation management project. And in goat speak, we call that eating.

"I'm just astounded that they could do that," said Asotin Mayor Vikki Bonfield. "I mean the little goats just grab hold of one of those and strip the leaves right off."

Bonfield called in the Healing Hooves team because of severe build up along Asotin creek. The Corps of Engineers requires the city to keep that part of the levee cleared off so there isn't build up of trash and branches that could cause flooding.

"If we don't clear the levee off and keep it maintained, then the city's going to have to, and everyone's going to have to, pay flood insurance, said Bonfield."

Bonfield said before Madsen and his crew of eaters came into town, the blackberries were so thick you couldn't even see down to the creek.

"It's next to impossible to remove the blackberries as bad as they have become," said Bonfield.

By letting the goats feed their appetites, the thick brush can be brought under control in just three days; without the use of any chemicals or sprays. Madsen said the goats are there 24 hours a day and he comes by during the day to check on them.

"Five to six hours a day just to get them back into spots," said Madsen.

Madsen took us through the brush to show us where the hard work is being done. Naturally, his entourage followed closely behind.

"Goats buttin' heads, that's what they do to figure out who's top on the list," said Madsen.

The big dogs, known as Spanish goats get to the prime berry picking spots because they're the at the top of the social pyramid, right next to Regina George or Ferris Bueller, depending on what decade you're from. But it's the little baby goats that get the gold.

"The little guys can sneak in there to spots that the big guys can't get to," said Madsen.

Like sneak into the little places of my heart! For reasons unbeknownst to me, Madsen wouldn't let me take brownie home. Regardless, the goats near the blackberry bushes were working hard. Unlike a group of other goats we ran into.

Bonfield said that Healing Hooves will charge about $2,000 for about three days of work on one acre of overgrown brush.