13-050 Mill Creek’s south-shore trail to temporarily close for vegetation management

Published July 17, 2013
Mill Creek vegetation-maintenance zone. Saturday, July 20, 2013 through Monday, July 29, 2013.

Mill Creek vegetation-maintenance zone. Saturday, July 20, 2013 through Monday, July 29, 2013.

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – The gravel trail on the south side of the Mill Creek channel will be temporarily closed to all visitors Saturday, July 20, through Monday, July 29, to allow vegetation management activities along the creek.

A herd of about 70 goats will be used to remove vegetation 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. This project is necessary to allow U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff to safely inspect the levee later this year during periods of flood risk. A $2,500 contract for the vegetation removal was awarded to Healing Hooves of Edwall, Wash. 

“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.”

Grazing also lessens future maintenance by reducing seed production, Colter added.

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 temporarily suspended during this time, 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.

For more information about this project or for general information about Mill Creek Dam and Bennington Lake, call the Mill Creek Office at 527-7160 or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/millcreekdam.

Public Affairs Office

Release no. 13-050