The stories that these two Firewise© Communities shared with us share how communities can select the best time of year to promote and encourage their residents to participate in wildfire mitigation activities. There is a broad range of variables that can determine when the best time of year is for your community to schedule wildfire prevention and education activities including:
- Working on projects when more residents tend to be in the community especially if the community has residents that are only there seasonally, such as for summer activities.
- Working on projects when the weather is favorable to outdoor activities.
- Working on projects considering the fire risks and times of year when the fire risk in your community is highest.
- Working on projects so that you do not interfere with nesting or denning habits of wildlife in the area.
Whenever you find the time(s) of year most favorable for your Firewise activity make sure to check out the NFPA Firewise Website for some additional project ideas.
Awbrey Glen at Bend, Oregon
Awbrey Glen conducts a roadside slash pick-up project every Spring and Fall for its Firewise project. Residents are reminded through their newsletter, their website, neighborhood meetings and with postcards of the dates when roadside pick-up of debris will be available. It is a two-week period during which residents clean their yards and stack bags of slash on the side of their road. Then, a contractor comes through daily, picking up the bags and bringing them to a recycling center. In addition, once every other year, in the Fall, the community hires a contractor with a chipper to travel through the community to chip tree limbs and other large items that cannot be bagged.
Awbrey Glen says, “Last month we completed our Fall “Drive through the Glen and Pick-up Program”. There are a bit more than five miles of roads in the Glen and our contractor drives through many times during this two week program picking up large trash bags full of combustible yard material. All of that material is then delivered to the Deschutes County recycling center. This Fall’s program used 30 yard dumpsters to deliver the material to the recycle center, and none of it to a landfill. The program in It took several years to build up the program to the high degree of success we have in Awbrey Glen. Getting a program like this together does take some time and effort. First, would be the selection of a skilled and licensed contractor who has access to a vehicle large enough to make this kind of program run both smoothly and economically. Followed by very clear and continuous communication, which must reach absolutely each and every property owner in the community. No matter how great your program may be, you simply can’t expect a percentage of your community to participate without an endless reminder. It may seem like a waste of time and money, but without endless reminders, your community can fall behind on the ability to reduce the possibility of losing even one home.”
Ridgewood Estates at Covallis, Oregon
Ridgewood Estates has held an annual yard slash Chipping Day during the first week in June for the past 30 years! This annual yard clean-up event is the community’s event for Firewise Day. The neighborhood of 52 homes begins cleaning their yards about one month in advance of the Chipper Days. The neighbors stack the slash in large piles by the road. Then the Ridgewood Road District President and volunteers tow a 12” chipper through the neighborhood and dispose of the debris. The wood chips are dispersed back to the homeowners for use in gardens and on nature paths. In 2014, residents put in 78 man-hours disposing of the slash piles over three days. This does not count the additional hours put in by homeowners cleaning their yards and creating the slash piles. The cost of chipper rental for three days was $900.
Ridgewood Road says, “The volunteer homeowners direct traffic for safety and load the material through the chipper, disbursing the woodchips back onto the property. With an 86 acre wildfire that occurred last September a few miles away, we anticipate an even larger effort this Spring, since a large number of Ridgewood residents are actively working one-on-one with our Community Wildfire Forester, using his suggestions to mitigate risk from wildfires.”
Picture submitted by Awbrey Glen Firewise Community