City to look at forest thinning plan teamwork

The City Council will decide whether to team with the U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy and the Lomakatsi Restoration Project to try and ensure that planned thinning in the Ashland Watershed is environmentally friendly.

The council meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main St.

In October 2009, the Forest Service approved the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project, which involves thinning and prescribed burning on 7,600 acres of the agency's land to reduce the risk of wildfire. A City Council majority had previously endorsed the plan in 2008. Councilor Eric Navickas cast the one vote against the plan.

This month, Navickas and fire ecologist Jay Lininger said they plan to fight the thinning project in court.

The proposed thinning project partnership is just one item on a packed agenda for Tuesday night.

City grants

Ashland Finance Director Lee Tuneberg is asking the council for direction on this spring's process for awarding city economic and cultural development grants.

The Ashland Chamber of Commerce and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival traditionally are given large sums, while about two-dozen less established groups like the Ashland Film Festival compete for smaller amounts by making presentations to the Citizens' Budget Committee.

The process could stay the same, or the City Council could decide to give the grant money — which comes from city hotel taxes — to fewer organizations.

The council could also clarify criteria for the grants. In 2009, Budget Committee members disagreed about whether economic return to the community should be a key measure in deciding which organizations win grants.

Emergency services billing

The council will also consider a proposal that Ashland Fire & Rescue bill the insurance of out-of-town drivers who are involved in crashes that require medical or rescue responses from the fire department.

Residents in car wrecks would not be charged because they already subsidize the fire department with their property taxes.

Residents may be charged if they were driving while intoxicated or were negligent.

Residents and non-residents alike could be billed for the cost of cleaning up hazardous material spills.

Other business

Other agenda items include considering whether to spend $416,000 on a Transportation System Plan, and whether to establish a new system for Ashland Municipal Court fines.

For a complete list of agenda items and for details on each item, visit

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 479-8199 or

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