MEDFORD, Ore. — Beginning Friday, the City of Medford will start enforcing an ordinance requiring that grass and weeds be kept trimmed in order to prevent wildfires in the city limits.
The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) has declared that May 1 is the official start of Fire Season for southwest Oregon, and the City of Medford's announcement follows the same logic — this spring has been particularly dry, setting up the potential for early wildfires.
"With warmer weather approaching and fire season beginning earlier than normal on May 1, vegetation in fields, hillsides and vacant lots is already drying out," Medford said. "Unmaintained dry vegetation is a significant fire risk during fire season. Fire can race through such vegetation endangering lives and property."
Under the ordinance, any property with unmaintained grass, weeds, brush, or similar vegetation more than 10 inches tall creates a fire hazard "that must be abated." Violations of the City code are punishable by a fine.
"In addition, if the City orders the hazard abated, the property owner is responsible for the cost of the abatement of the hazard and associated administrative fees," Medford said.
The City ordinance allows for a few exceptions:
- Ornamental shrubs, bushes, or other like vegetation maintained and kept in a landscaped yard or place
- Any crop grown and maintained for agricultural purposes, or grass or other like vegetation grown and maintained for pasturage upon property fenced, zoned, and otherwise lawfully used for said purpose
- Any "natural area" within a public park in the City of Medford
For more information about the ordinance or to report unmaintained tall weeds and grass, visit the City website here. If you live in the hillside areas and want more information about making your property more wildfire resistant, call Medford Fire-Rescue at 541-774-2300 to set up a free home evaluation or visit this webpage.