The "kids" of summer arrive in Rushford - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

The "kids" of summer arrive in Rushford

By Howard Sapiro

Rushford, MN (WXOW) - The summer vacation season is well underway.

While some people move to the lake, cabin or campground for the summer, an unusual group has taken up residence in Rushford, Minnesota.

The city of Rushford has become a popular summertime destination. Some come to hike the trail, while others visit to shop the downtown stores or sample local cuisine; however, Rushford's best known summer residents come for the grass.

“Oh they love it,” Jason McPhail, Driftless Land Stewardship said. “They wait all year to be out here.”

All 160 of the goats are the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) newest employees. They are hired to eat their way across two of Rushford's bluffs, clearing the steep hillside of invasive species.

“Once they eat that back, it gives a chance for the more desirable plants to emerge and come back, which used to be here in years past,” McPhail said.

These four-legged landscapers can reach places human crews can't. They're goats and are very adorable.

Rushford Mayor Chris Hallum might just be the goats' biggest fan.

“As a mayor of a city, you want to generate a buzz for your town,” Hallum said. “These guys have really done it.”

While the goats' job may be to graze the greens on the bluff side, they also help local business owners rake it in on main street.

“They are not a lot of places you can go and watch goats,” Amy Feller, owner of Jessie Street Java said.

Feller said people stop downtown just to see the goats work. She's happy to have provided them with a place to gaze.

“We should start putting out binoculars on the tables,” Feller said. “It could become a new thing. Bird watching, goat watching.”

Feller's even considering adding a new drink to her menu in their honor, an ice cold goat-tea.

“I think they are awesome,” Feller said.

By the time these kids of summer head back to the farm in October, they will have mowed their way through more than 100 acres of land.

“Yeah, I should get one of those for my yard, more freetime,” Feller said.

The invasive grass will eventually grow back, just in time for the goat's return next spring. Rushford is counting on it.

The goats are owned by a private company. Driftless Land Stewardship contacts with the DNR and grazes goats on three different sites in southern Minnesota, and two sites in Wisconsin.

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