Locals are strongly encouraged this time of year to remove flammable debris from around their homes to protect lives and property during summer fire season. But how much yard debris should you remove if you want to see and support wildlife around your home?
“Fire starts on the surface, comes up into these bushes and then can go into the trees causing a crown fire. Crown fires are very difficult to fight,” said Melissa Steele, fire inspector for Bend Fire & Rescue. “What we want is to keep that fire on the ground.”
The next six weekends, several communities and homeowner associations in Bend are hosting Firewise events to reduce fire danger around homes.
“If a fire starts in the wildland area, embers can throw that quickly into and around homes. We want to make sure is excess fuels are picked up.”
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Wildlife experts encourage homeowners to leave yard debris on the ground and in piles in the fall and winter to provide shelter. But they, too, say yard debris should be removed before fire season.
“Whether taking it to landfill or burning it, do a thorough check to make sure there’s no wildlife nesting in it,” said Sally Compton, Think Wild executive director. “You can take a hose or a rake and toussle the debris to make sure any wildlife in there has a chance to escape.”
Fire inspectors and wildlife experts agree that thinning trees and brush is good for the vegetation and an effective way to reduce fire danger, but look for nests before cutting.
“If you absolutely must trim a tree, you should know that birds and their offspring are protected by the federal migratory bird act. It is against regulations to move active nests. If the nest is not active, that’s a different case. You can always give us a call or send a picture if you are unsure,” Compton said.
Firewise events include time for debris clean-up and education about defensible space, appearances by a fire truck equipped with educational materials and interactive features for kids, and a BBQ for everyone.
- Saturday, April 15, 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. Firewise: Sundance HOA, 22070 Quebec Drive, Bend. Residents only.
- Saturday, April 22, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Fire Ready Bend: OSU-Cascades Obsidian Hall, 1500 SW Chandler Ave., Bend. Open to the public.
- Saturday, April 29, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Tumalo Community Day: Bend Fire Station 302, 19850 4th Street, Tumalo. Open to the public.
- Saturday, May 6, 12-2 p.m. Firewise: Bridges at ShadowGlen HOA, 20832 Sotra Loop Bend. Residents only.
- Saturday, May 13, 11:30 a.m.- 1:30 p.m. Firewise: Higher Ground HOA, 2558 NE Daggett Lane, Bend. Residents only.
- Saturday, June 3, 1-2 p.m. Firewise: Three Pines HOA, 19013 Mt. Shasta Drive, Bend. Residents only.