Within a couple of minutes of recently talking with Chris Chambers (Forest Division Chief) and Ali True (Firewise Communities Coordinator) with the City of Ashland Fire & Rescue, I instantly knew they’re part of a robust team fully committed to making Ashland, Oregon a fire adapted community.
The collaborative undertakings of this city are impressive; they’ve worked hard to incorporate the many concepts that make them a great example of how much can be accomplished when stakeholders work together to make a plan come to fruition.
After our conversation, I couldn’t stop thinking about the progress that’s been made in reducing their community’s wildfire risk, their proactive actions, and acknowledgment of surrounding resources and assets is a model for others to emulate. In addition to Ashland Fire & Rescue, actively involved stakeholders include the U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, BLM and the Nature Conservancy, along with private and city owned properties, all working together to perform cross-boundary wildfire fuels reduction work.
A recently produced video from the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project demonstrates the collaboration that has been embraced by the community, businesses, elected officials, along with environmental and safety leaders. Everyone with a role in wildfire mitigation should take ten minutes to watch this video and share it with their partners and residents. There's lessons we can all learn from our sister community's successes -and this story takes those lessons into the major leagues.
Their efforts have extended into outreach projects with youth, including the Ashland Watershed Youth Training and Employment Program, Firewise classroom outreach to fourth graders, and clean-up days sponsored by the local sanitation company; along with events during their Firewise Week campaign. Twelve communities participate in the national Firewise Communities/USA recognition program and the fire department provides wildfire assessments to every resident.
Ashland is proving what can be accomplished and is setting the bar very high for others to follow!