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Keep going, Ashland

Ashland residents are seriously stepping up this year to prepare for wildfire.

We have never seen so much wildfire risk-reduction work taking place in Ashland as we have seen this spring. And we’re not referring to the 1,500 acres of pile burns and underburns that we have conducted in the watershed since last wildfire season, nor are we referring to the Himalayan blackberry cleanup that has been occurring near the Ashland Dog Park, North Mountain Park and other drainage areas around town.

We are talking about the work that Ashland residents have been completing on their own or in partnership with their neighbors in yards and common areas to reduce wildfire risk.

We have never seen more loads of juniper, manzanita and arborvitae loaded up in the back of trucks and making their way to the Transfer Station. We at Ashland Fire & Rescue would like to tell you to keep up the good work.

May is the second month of Ashland’s Wildfire Safety Campaign, and it is the month to firewise your landscape. Here are the top landscaping actions you should prioritize this May before wildfire season:

Remove all bark mulch within five feet of your house. Replace with noncombustible material like rock or soil.

Remove all combustible leaf and needle debris and flammable vegetation from at least within five feet of your home and other structures, including your roof and gutters, and around your wood siding and decks.

Cut back weeds and grass to four inches tall before June 15. This is required by Ashland’s weed abatement ordinance.

Once you’ve completed those three items, complete these four tasks:

Clear dead branches, wood and dense flammable vegetation around your property, starting closest to the house and working your way out.

Prune flammable trees a minimum of 6 feet above the ground, or one-third of the tree height, whichever is less.

Make space between flammable shrubs. Space between shrubs should be two times the height of the shrub at maturity.

Relocate wood piles and other combustible materials (e.g. cardboard, lumber) 30 feet from structures if you can, and keep wood piles clear of leaf and needle debris.

To help you get rid of all this flammable material, Ashland’s Wildfire Safety Commission and Ashland Fire & Rescue, in partnership with Recology Ashland, will be hosting the 10th annual Green Debris Drop Off Day Sunday, May 2, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Ashland residents are welcome to dump their flammable yard debris at Valley View Transfer Station for free. Bring leaves, pine needles, small branches (up to 6 inches in diameter), and Himalayan blackberry to dispose at the transfer station. Do not bring stumps, logs, firewood, treated lumber, dirt, mulch or rocks. Visit ashland.or.us/greendebris for more information.

Thanks to the partnership with Recology Ashland and funding from Oregon Department of Forestry, the city of Ashland is also distributing green debris bins to neighbors who are working together to reduce the flammable green debris from their neighborhoods. We still have a handful of bins available, so make a plan with your neighbors to hold a clean-up day and apply for a bin at ashland.or.us/greendebrisbin. Visit fireadaptedashland.org for other resources to help you prepare for wildfire season this year.

Katie Gibble is Ashland fire adapted communities coordinator.