Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Wednesday, December 04, 2002


December 4, 2002 -12:00 p.m.
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street

Mayor DeBoer called the meeting to order at 12:00 p.m.

Councilors Reid, Laws, Jackson and Hearn were present. Councilor Hartzell and Morrison were absent. Staff: Fire Chief Keith Woodley, Parks & Recreation Director Ken Mickelson and Jeff McFarland, Parks Department.

I. Update regarding the Forest Interface Wildfire Fuels Reduction Work.
Chris Chambers, Forest Work Grant Coordinator presented the Wildfire Fuels Reduction Program. He explained that Ashland is located in a very dry, hot, fire-prone environment and that the vegetation types in our area are a direct result of our fire history. He stated that it is not "if" we will have another large-scale fire, but only "when."

Chambers explained the history of the program and the amount of time and involvement that Fire Chief Woodley and Marty Main have invested in this work. He explained that there has been work done on Ridge Road, Glenview Drive, Strawberry Lane and Granite Street. He noted that the fire season of 2000 led to the National Fire Plan and commented on the Fire Plan Grant and Title 3 Grant.

Jackson County, National Fire Plan and the City of Ashland are funding the Forest Work Grant Coordinator position. The responsibilities of this position include Fuels Reduction in Interface, By-Product Utilization, and liaison with the Forest Service.

The goals of this program is to protect lives and property by reducing natural fuels within the Wildland-Urban Interface, creating defensible space around homes and decreasing danger to firefighters. Protecting the watershed and restoring ecosystem health by creating suppression opportunities before fire enters the watershed and to thin brush in favor of conifers.

Chambers sited management priorities as defensible space in extreme risk zones. He explained that defensible space creates a buffer from fuels, allows firefighters to work, and save homes. He stated that defensible space area depends on slope and fuel type. Examples of defensible spaces are fuels discontinuous within 200 feet of house, home construction is non-flammable, landscaping is small and fire-resistant and fuel free zone around home.

He pointed out that watershed protection involves management outside of defensible space and making connecting fuel breaks. He commented on current fuels thinning/forest restoration projects within the interface.

Chambers explained that it was important to know that no fuels work or construction can make a home totally fire safe. That we live in an environment where the worst case scenario is possible and that we all live with accepted risks.

He noted the limitations for this project include grow-back of vegetation, time constraints and funding.

Discussion regarding how if additional monies were available through the city, and while grant funding is still available, the additional amount of fuel reduction area that could be done. The challenges of managing the grant funds were noted.

II. Update on the development of the CERT Program.
Michelle Argent, CERT Program Coordinator presented brief overview of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) noting that this is a national program that started in Los Angeles in 1985 by the Los Angeles Fire Department and formed in Ashland in 1999. There are currently 200,000 CERT trained citizens nationwide and the President's goal is an additional 400,000 CERT graduates in the next two years. She noted the recent 2001 and 2002 fires, 1997 Ashland Flood and the 1993 Klamath Falls earthquake. She stated that there are currently 122 residents that have completed the Basic Training and that Basic Training is an 8-week class and a final exercise.

Ashland CERT goals include 1) Retention of volunteers, 2) Team Readiness and 3) Recruitment. Argent explained that retention includes monthly meetings, ownership of CERT volunteers and to uncover the needs where CERT can contribute immediately. Team readiness includes new team divisions, geographic names, bases and meeting sites set, team leader meetings, quarterly training and development of communication plan. Recruitment includes a goal of 20 citizens per class, develop name recognition, informal "speakers bureau" and media coverage. There is a future plan to place information on the website or through a newsletter.

Argent explained that the council could help by supporting funding for the program and when city property is involved. She noted that the age requirement to participate is 14 years of age and older and clarified when meeting times are scheduled.

Meeting was adjourned at 1:20 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder

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