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Letters, July 13

Watering lawns and grass

To her credit, Gov. Kate Brown has ordered government agencies to stop watering lawns and washing windows, and Southern Oregon University has stopped watering lawns as well.

Citizens of the Rogue Valley, please follow their lead. Keep your gardens alive but please stop watering lawns and grass. If we continue this excessive use of water, we might reach a time when you have green lawns but not enough water to take a shower.

Michael Hersh

Ashland

Create safer communities with goats

In the devastating Almeda fire, blackberry thatch played a major role in fueling the fire. Along Bear Creek, in our neighborhood alleys, open areas and fence lines, blackberry plants accumulate hazardous wildfire fuel. The invasive Himalayan “giant” blackberry has become a giant problem in Southern Oregon, especially as a fuel for fire.

But there is hope.

Goats are well equipped for eating brush and especially enjoy blackberries. Their prehensile tongues are well suited for eating shrubs, spines and leaves, making them well adapted for eating thorny blackberry canes. Researchers in the United States and Europe have found that goats effectively clear vegetation and can improve plant diversity. The key is to balance the number of goats with the rate of plant growth. If the rate of plant removal is lower than the rate of plant growth, then grazing can reduce vegetation while supporting the ecosystem.

Goats are a great way to reduce flammable vegetation, without damaging riparian areas or using chemical herbicides. Cities and neighborhoods need to start thinking creatively and collaboratively about reducing fire risk. If goats had been part of the management plan along the Bear Creek corridor, then the Almeda fire might not have spread so fast.

Laura Reed Jessup

Ashland

A thirst for bikes

“I’ve got a bike, you can ride it if you like.

It’s got a basket, a bell that rings

And things to make it look good.” (Pink Floyd)

COVID created a thirst for bikes, a year with time to tinker with broken bicycles, to buy one, to bike and explore Ashland’s neighborhoods.

I don’t like the car as the king of our streets. Ashland is a town of short trips. Streets are overlooked, aren’t enhancing life, they’re for parking and moving stuff. They used to be for play, to be a destination stop.

How many people in Ashland have given up biking due to unsafe streets? Are you one? Streets should be multimodal and safe for all abilities.

Let’s reimagine our town with safer streets and crosswalks, places to be, to savor: remember the Plaza as a destination stop last summer? Ashland as a town that can have less air pollution, fewer asthmatic children, designated bike lanes, fewer auto and bike injuries.

Safe biking burns calories, builds strength, improves balance, moves those joints, is low-impact and environmentally friendly. Let’s redesign the streets as multimodal for everyone and not as conduits for more congestion.

Louise D. Shawkat

Ashland