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Portland General Electric employs goats to clean area near the Oak Grove Powerhouse along the Clackamas River.

COURTESY PHOTO: PORTLAND GENERAL ELECTRIC - Goats from Healing Hooves were recently employed by Portland General Electric to clean the area along the Oak Grove Power House.

Some recent employees for Portland General Electric had four legs and a willingness to eat just about anything.

PGE partnered with Healing Hooves, a company that uses goats for weed control, vegetation removal and ecosystem management, to help manage vegetation near the Oak Grove Powerhouse, located along the Clackamas River near Three Lynx. 

Usually, temporary employees use weed whackers to clear the area around the pipeline, which spans seven miles. But this year, several hundred goats munched on overgrown weeds for four days.

While working for PGE, the goats from Healing Hooves were supervised by their shepherd Craig Madsen and his watchdog, Gigi. 

"We section off areas, and the goats go to work doing their thing," Madsen said. "They then take breaks to chew their cud and get back to it when they're hungry again."

COURTESY PHOTO: PORTLAND GENERAL ELECTRIC - Matthew Bodine, plant maintenance manager at PGEs Westside Hydro Facility, shows off the area near the Oak Grove Power House that was cleaned by goats.

Located in Edwall, Washington, Healing Hooves has 250 goats available for vegetation management projects. The herd typically remains on a project for at least three days — depending on the amount of vegetation to be maintained. In that time, the goats can cover 1 to 6 acres.

According to the Healing Hooves website, goats are versatile and can handle steep slopes and uneven terrain. They aren't deterred by plants with thorns (like blackberries), and they enjoy eating plants like poison ivy, poison oak and English ivy.

Benefits of using goats on these types of projects include reducing or eliminating the use of pesticides, reducing fire risks from gas-powered tools, preventing unwanted seed production, and reducing risks to crews by opening the site up and making it easier to avoid dangers in the area.

COURTESY PHOTO: PORTLAND GENERAL ELECTRIC - A goat eats brush near PGEs Oak Grove Power House.

"I have a passion for renewable energy and doing the right thing for the environment," said Matthew Bodine, plant maintenance manager at PGE's Westside Hydro Facility. "If I can find a more ecologically sound way of doing something that's also cost-effective and safer, that's great."

Bodine and his team found that hiring goats contributed to operational efficiency and safety, two of their biggest goals. Because of this, goats may manage vegetation near PGE's facilities in the future.

Estacada goats are ready to work

Along with the Healing Hooves team used by Portland General Electric, an Estacada farm is also putting its goats to work. Getfoola Farms, run by Andrew and Trina Voss, offer goats for a variety of landscaping projects.

They're valuable members of the team," Andrew said of the goats, affectionately referring to them as "biological lawn roombas."

Getfoola Farms is at 31035 S.E. Currin Road. For more information, visit getfoola.com

COURTESY PHOTO: PORTLAND GENERAL ELECTRIC - Goats from Healing Hooves are watched over by their watchdog, Gigi.


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