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Fire safe landscaping

Pictures and video of devastating fires in Australia have blanketed the media this winter. The only thing worse is when it’s happening all around, giving us and the feeling that we’re the next Paradise, California. Though Ashland has high wildfire risk, that doesn’t mean our fate is sealed.

The vast of majority of our hazardous conditions are our own creations — wooden houses we’ve built, trees and shrubs we’ve planted, and our own lack of awareness that has compounded the situation over the decades. Climate change is here, and with wildfires predicted to increase three to four times their current footprint in coming decades, we need to step up our game now.

The good news is what we made ... we can unmake.

To help you, the City Council adopted a resolution in October 2018 that restricts new flammable plants within 30 feet of any building, anywhere in the city limits. If you’re thinking about re-landscaping your yard, planting a privacy hedge, or getting started on those early season gardening projects, please don’t plant a fire hazard next to your home.

The prohibited species are listed below, and a more comprehensive list can be found at ashland.or.us/prohibitedplants. On the positive side, fire-resistant landscaping is attractive, can use less water, and can be pollinator-friendly. Tell the nursery or landscaper you want fire-resistant plants. They can help you be safe and avoid having to remove a dangerous tree or shrub later. Ashland Fire & Rescue Station #1 downtown has a brand new Firewise Garden. Come visit and see what’s blooming.

If your property already has plants on the prohibited flammable-plants list — especially within 30 feet of a building — strongly consider proactively removing those plants now to better prepare for wildfire seasons.

Ashland’s ninth annual Green Debris Drop Off Day is the perfect time to get rid of flammable vegetation and green debris, which may include the flammable plants listed below and other wildfire fuels like leaves, pine needles and small branches accumulating in your rain gutters, at the base of walls, or under shrubs and decking.

And don’t spread wood mulch within 5 feet of your home, deck and wooden fence. Use rock, compost. or highly decomposed mulch instead. Keep it lean, clean, and green!

This year’s Green Debris Drop Off Day is May 2, so mark your calendars and start pruning and raking now. Drop-off is free from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Valley View Transfer Station, 3000 N. Valley View Road. Your ID with an Ashland address will be required for free disposal, and only organic materials will be accepted. More information can be found at ashland.or.us/cleanupday. Thank you Recology Ashland and the Ashland Wildfire Safety Commission for supporting this event!

If you’re unsure about what to plant or seek more information, please visit www.ashland.or.us/prepareyourhome, call us at 541-482-2770 or head downtown to Fire Station #1, across from the Ashland Library. Our office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Come by to check out our new Firewise Landscaping Demonstration Garden and pick up a brochure to learn more about how to protect your home and neighborhood from wildfire.

Wildfire is everyone’s fight, and we need your help to keep Ashland fire safe. More information is located at ashland.or.us/wildfiresafetyordinance.

Prohibited Trees

Arborvitae/Red cedar (Thuja sp.)

Cedar (Cedrus sp.)*

Cedar/Cypress (Chamaecyparis sp.)*

Cypress (Cupressus sp.)*

Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)

Fir (Abies sp.)

Hemlock (Tsuga sp.)*

Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens or Libocedrus decurrens)

Juniper (Juniperus sp.)*

Pine (Pinus sp.)*

Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron sp.)

Coast Redwood (Sequoia sp.)

Spruce (Picea sp.)*

Yew (Taxus sp.)*

Prohibited Shrubs

Bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata)

Broom (Cytisus sp.)

Ceanothus (Ceanothus sp.)*

Himalayan Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus)

Juniper (Juniperus sp.)

Lavender (Lavandula sp.)*

Manzanita (Arctostaphylos sp.)*

Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium)*

Rosemary (Rosmarinus sp.)*

Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata or californica sp.)

Prohibited Grasses

Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana)

*see website for limited exemptions for dwarf varieties, only with approval from Fire Chief

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