After assessing and mapping wildfire risk on City and Parks public properties, work crews are embarking on an aggressive push to remove flammable brush and blackberries next to neighborhoods most susceptible to summer flames and embers, while creating opportunities to stop a fire from racing up the Bear Creek and Ashland Creek corridors.
“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.
The mapping identified two major areas of concern centered around the North Mountain Park area and the Ashland Dog Park and Waste Water Treatment Plant just east of the Almeda Fire origin. The properties are a mix of City and APRC managed areas that have typically been mowed around rather than being reduced or removed. The City and Parks together do mowing and cutting for fire safety every year that totals 150 acres. The new work will add to that total this spring.
“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 A. Black, AICP; Director for APRC.
“We’re happy to work with the community to address this incredibly important public safety concern,” added Black. Plans include removing hazardous vegetation this year and then assessing areas for replanting native plants and controlling blackberry regrowth in the coming years.
Work started last week next to the BMX park adjacent to Almeda Drive with Parks crews cutting blackberries and work continues this week in the North Mountain Avenue neighborhood along Bear Creek on Parks land. Crews are cutting and burning berries when burn days are approved, and under a permit from Ashland Fire & Rescue.
City and Parks officials will be available at 12:00 noon on Friday for interviews and a tour of ongoing work. Please meet and park at the North Mountain Park Nature Center, 620 N Mountain Ave in Ashland.