ASHLAND, Ore. — The City of Ashland is in the midst of an "aggressive push" to clear out brush and blackberry bushes around the city that could be susceptible to wildfire this coming summer, with reminders of the Almeda Fire still fresh.
“We know there are areas of concern to both firefighters and residents and we’re working to create the best opportunities to protect the community by dealing with the problem before it becomes an emergency,” said Adam Hanks, Ashland City Manager Pro Tem.
Mapping and wildfire risk assessment throughout the city identified two major areas of concern — the North Mountain Park area, and the Ashland Dog Park and Wastewater Treatment Plant area just east of where the Almeda Fire began.
The properties are a mix of City and Ashland Parks-managed land, and typically have been mowed around instead of being cleared outright. Both entities are responsible for mowing and cutting areas totaling 150 acres for fire safety every year.
“Many neighbors have asked in the past to leave blackberries for privacy; recently we have received many requests to remove them after seeing berry patches burn in the Almeda Fire,” said Michael Black, Director for the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission.
The City said that work started last week next to the BMX park near Almeda Drive, with Parks crews cutting back blackberry bushes. Work continues this week in the North Mountain Avenue neighborhood along Bear Creek. Crews are cutting and burning the bushes when able, under a permit from Ashland Fire & Rescue.
This year, Ashland's plans include both removal of hazardous vegetation and assessment of these areas for adding native plants and controlling blackberry regrowth in the future.
“We’re happy to work with the community to address this incredibly important public safety concern,” added Black.