What is weed reduction? (with photo)

Weed reduction consists of removing plants or grasses that present a risk of fire in occupied or vacant structures and in transport routes.

Weed reduction consists of removing plants or grasses that present a risk of fire in occupied or vacant structures and in transport routes. It creates space around buildings and reduces the risk of loss of property and life due to fire. In some areas, harmful weed reduction programs are in place to rid the land of plants that threaten the natural foliage.

Areas where wildfires get out of control typically impose strict weed reduction programs. These programs require defensible space around buildings that interface with forests and other areas containing dense vegetation. Laws in these areas often require homeowners to clear brush and debris at a minimum distance from structures. Homeowners may also need to create firebreaks vertically and horizontally to control the spread of fire.

The combination of heat, wind and fuel in the form of dead vegetation leads to the destruction of homes and loss of life in areas where wildfires burn out of control, often for days. After firefighters put out the fire, rains can cause landslides in mountainous areas because vegetation often holds the soil in place. Landslides can also lead to loss of property and huge financial impacts for communities.

Reduction officials often send notices to owners when a hazard exists. Notifications typically give a certain number of days to comply with weeding or other flammable debris. After the schedule expires, inspectors usually check the land to see if weed reduction is satisfactory.

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If the property still poses a fire hazard, a notice of violation typically goes out, advising the property owner that the reduction will be done by a licensed contractor or public works department. The owner is normally billed for the work. In some areas, a lien may be placed on the property to recoup the costs of weeding.

An appeals process typically allows the land owner to challenge the inspector’s findings. Resources may argue that vegetation on land consists of fire resistant plants, exempt from weed reduction regulations. This procedure can also be applied if threatened species or rare plants grow on the property scheduled for reduction. A feature usually extends the time to reduce until an investigation can be made.

Some weed laws require cutting ornamental plants to remove dead leaves or branches. They may also require tree branches to be trimmed from structures and grass to be cut to a predetermined length. Removing pine needles and other debris from gutters and roofs can also fall under weed reduction laws.

Harmful weed reduction programs exist in areas where non-native plants pose a risk of invading and smothering the most desirable native plant species. These programs attempt to suppress and control the spread of harmful weeds on public and private land. They often use biological and chemical methods to lessen the problem.

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