Clayton and New York float the Willamette with their owner Erica Somes.

Clayton and New York float the Willamette with their owner Erica Somes.

Travis Williams


It could have been just another adventure for Clayton and New York, two goats living in Northeast Portland. But on this trip, they also had a mission.

“It started with just seeing if we could take the goats canoeing,” said Travis Williams, whose girlfriend Erica Somes originally bought the two goats to help out on backpacking trips.

Somes often takes the two male goats on walks around the neighborhood, and thought it would be fun to get them out on the water. Williams is the executive director of the environmental group Willamette Riverkeeper, and he realized there might be another reason to put the goats in a boat.

“I also wanted to see how that might work to attack invasive plants on Willamette sites that are remote, and best reached by canoe,” Williams said. “Islands, of course, fall into that category.”

Erica Somes and Travis Williams paddle with two goats.

So, they tried it. Somes and Williams loaded the goats onto a canoe and paddled them to Cedar Island in the Willamette River near West Linn, Ore.

“They did fine nibbling on some of the blackberries and leaves,” Williams said. “They also did fine canoeing on the Willamette. We thought it was a success.”

Williams says he sees opportunities for goats to eat away at invasive scotch broom and blackberries on other publicly owned islands in the Willamette.

“The impact of goats wouldn’t be tremendous, but over time they could have an impact,” he said. “These guys and some friends could do some good. The knock on goats is they don’t discriminate. So, you have to be cautious, but it could be do-able.”

— Cassandra Profita