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Fire season is here

Know your responsibilities and do your part to help keep Ashland fire safe

Ashland's landscape will be extremely dry this summer, and we must continue to proactively reduce our wildfire risks.

Tall grasses and weeds have begun to cure and will dry out fast once hot summer temperatures arrive. That means a higher potential for catastrophic fire. If you have not already done so, Ashland Fire & Rescue is requesting you cut drying weeds and grasses immediately to protect your property and our community from wildfire.

Cutting grass and weeds reduces the ability of fire to start or spread quickly and substantially decreases the fire risk in our city. In addition, removing flammable plants and debris near your home increases the chances it will survive a wildfire event.

Completing this important work now ensures that wildfire fuels have been eliminated as we move into the summer wildfire season.

Ashland Municipal Code Chapter 9.04 requires landowners and tenants to cut grasses and weeds by June 15 each year and to keep them cut throughout the fire season. It applies to all lots within city limits. Everyone has a role to play in reducing the risks of wildfire. Please help us by doing your part to reduce the fire risks around your home, property and/or jobsite. This responsibility includes sidewalks, easements and parking areas adjacent to your property.

Construction projects are also required to keep weeds and grasses cut around the jobsite when combustible building materials are present. Be sure that fire hydrants are visible and kept free and clear of vegetation and other obstacles for quick firefighter access.

The city of Ashland created enforceable laws for weed abatement and wildfire safety to promote proven measures of fire safety for the protection of our beautiful community and forest environment. AMC9.04 includes the removal of noxious vegetation.

The minimum requirements for weed abatement include the cutting and/or removal of all Scotch broom and thistles on the entire property and any Himalayan blackberry bushes, poison hemlock, and/or tree of heaven within the required areas. Debris on a property shall comply with AMC9.08.110 or be removed.

If an area is within a riparian zone or wetland, please refer to the city of Ashland's Planning Department for further information regarding requirements and restrictions for working within riparian zones (AMC18.3.11.020). Failure to cut and maintain weeds and grasses throughout fire season can result in fines for each day the violation exists, plus abatement and staff costs.

While preparing your property for fire season, we strongly recommend taking the additional steps of removing all flammable materials within five feet of your home or accessory structures. Visit www.fireadaptedashland.org for details.

Flying embers from a wildfire can get trapped next to your house and put your home at risk. Keeping this area free of anything flammable could mean all the difference. By each of us being responsible with our own property and/or residence, we help keep our entire community fire safe. Ashland is in a wildland-urban interface; we must be mindful of our risks. Please, do not wait to abate. Help us all have a safe fire season.

Find answers to questions, learn more about ordinance requirements, and get links to more information about wildfire safety at www.ashland.or.us/weedabatement.

Brian Hendrix is the weed abatement coordinator for Ashland Fire & Rescue. You can reach him at cutweeds@ashland.or.us or 541-552-2246.