Got Goats? They Do At Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

A herd of goats from Idaho has been enlisted to help clear away, er, eat, native and non-native vegetation in some areas of Whiskeytown National Recreation Area in California.

The goats were let loose this past Friday to begin work on restoring the cultural landscape in the NRA's Tower House Historic District and to help reduce hazardous fuels at other areas throughout Whiskeytown, according to a release from the NRA.

The Tower House Historic District, located between Clear, Willow and Mill creeks along Highway 299, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 for its association with early settlement in northern California during the Gold Rush. Beginning in the 1850s, the native vegetation of the site was manipulated for a variety of purposes. Since this time period, an assortment of naturalized native and non-native trees and shrubs have invaded the area.

The goats are expected to reduce the spread of non-native vegetation and rein-in the natives, according to the NRA. Through this munching officials hope to:

* Preserve the historic structures and cultural landscape

* More fully depict the character of the cultural landscape

* Stabilize and preserve the historic vegetation

* Stabilize and preserve the historic views/visual relationships

Once they've eaten their way to success at the Tower House district, the goats wil be moved to Whiskeytown's headquarters complex along John F. Kennedy Memorial Drive, and the National Environmental Education Development Camp on Paige Bar Road. The objective of the grazing in these developed areas is to reduce the buildup of hazardous fuels around structures and to reduce the occurrence of non-native weeds.

During the project, portions of the park and some trails will be temporarily closed to allow for fencing to contain the goat herd, the park release said. Visitors are welcome to view the goats, but are asked not enter the closed areas or approach the goats or stock dogs. These animals are not pets, so visitors are advised to keep their distance for their safety and that of the livestock, NRA officials add.

The goats for this project are provided and managed by Prescriptive Livestock Services of Grangeville, Idaho. Approximately 60 acres will be grazed during this project, which is expected to last four weeks.