Create a defensible space 5-30 feet from your home
In case you missed our article last week, the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District recommends making your property and home more wildfire resistant by taking on the tasks one weekend at a time. You may find the first weekend's task list on our website at conservationdistrict.org.
This week we are looking at the Intermediate Zone, 5-30 feet from your home or outbuilding. We will be thinking about the landscape/hardscape and creating fire breaks.
Gather your family and friends for these activities:
• Clear vegetation from under large stationary propane tanks.
• Create fuel breaks with driveways, walkways/paths, patios and decks. This may be a long-term project, but it is good to think about what fire breaks you already have and what you may want in the future.
• Mow lawns and native grasses to a height of 4 inches. Maintain this throughout the summer. Remember if it is brown, cut it down.
• Remove ladder fuels (vegetation under trees) so a ground fire cannot climb into tree crowns. Prune trees up to 6-10 feet from the ground; on shorter trees do not exceed one-third of the overall tree height.
• Maintain tree spacing to have a minimum of 18 feet between crowns, with the distance increasing with the percentage of slope.
• Tree placement should be planned so when the tree is mature its canopy is no closer than 10 feet from the edge of a structure.
• Trees and shrubs in this zone should be limited to small clusters of a few each to break up the vegetation across the landscape.
Are you are looking to replace trees that may have been damaged during the ice storm? Here are a few resources with ideas for trees and shrubs that are less susceptible to burning. Check the Oregon State University Cooperative Extension publication, "Fire Resistant Plants for Oregon Landscapes." Another useful publication offered by OSU is a 36-page guide, "Keeping Your Home and Property Safe from Wildfire." These publications are available at catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu.
When embarking on these tasks you must be careful not to create a wildfire due to sparks from a chain saw or other equipment. Please inspect your vehicle or trailer to make sure you do not drag any chains or other metal pieces that may cause sparks. Also, be careful not to park a vehicle with a hot catalytic converter/exhaust system where dry grasses or weeds will touch these parts and catch on fire.
Lastly, be sure to check with the Clackamas Fire District or Oregon Department of Forestry for current information on burning. Do not be the one who causes a wildfire! Next week, we will look at the Extended Zone.
Lisa Kilders is the education and outreach program manager for the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District.
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