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Let’s explore some of the elements of ‘mitigation’ and disposal of the materials you’ve accumulated in your efforts to create a defensible space.

Mitigation in a general sense means to remove the fuels that feed a wildfire.  These include:

  • Remove dead, standing and downed trees that are within the 60’ perimeter area of your home.

  • Remove leaves and pine needles; especially those piles the wind has blown under the decking, or that have accumulated in the roof gutters.  Blow them at least 30’ from the perimeter of your home.  This is an activity that needs to happen regularly, since the wind has a way of blowing them back.    Here’s a link to that video demonstrating just how dangerous small piles of litter can be

  • Vertical spacing of plants is as important as horizontal.  Limb up all healthy trees to a height of 10’ if possible to keep a ground fire from laddering up to the tree crowns.   Cedars, Mountain Laurel, and Holly are plants with high flammability ratings so you’ll want to pay special attention to remediating them.   

It’s been encouraging to see that several of you have been proactive thinning trees and working to create a defensible space around your cabins; more of us need to follow your examples. 

Once you’ve blown the piles of litter and trimmed the trees what can you do with the residue?  



Last year we started to clear our defensive space and generated the whole list of junk… logs, branches, and leaves.  For the larger logs we cut them up and were fortunate that some neighbors were interested in accumulating firewood and had the capability to haul the wood away.

The smaller stuff posed the bigger challenge, especially since it is the most flammable. We borrowed a small wood chipper and shredded the branches and the leaves.  This made a fine mulch for some of our plants.  The area we worked so hard to clear is now on an easy maintenance of occasional leaf blowing.

If you’re not able to do your own mitigation, there are a few business in the area who are trained in mitigation.

In the future, as our community becomes more organized around Firewise we’ll be able to combine our efforts and resources so we can maintain the mitigation efforts.  Some Firewise communities are able to rent a chipper and help each other shred branches and leaves.  Other Firewise communities have been able to rent a Mechanical Fuel Treatment machine from the Georgia Forestry Commission.  It looks like an oversize riding mower with an 88” wide deck.  It can clear underbrush and trees up to 4” in diameter.   

Know before you burn


Doing double take?  After all this stuff about protecting us from wildfire here I am talking about burning!!   While not my first choice, it is an option.  I have witnessed residents in our community burning brush piles.  For maximum safety, a very important consideration is to make sure you have a Burn Permit.

These are issued by the Georgia Forestry Commission for the day you call in the permit request. Any fire must be extinguished by 2100 hours, or dark. 

There are several considerations the GFC uses when issuing the permits.  Wind, humidity, weather forecast, and smoke dispersion estimates are among some 20 different climate factors that enter into a decision on whether or not it’s safe to allow open burning. 

Reasons to register with GFC:

  • Should someone see the smoke generated from your fire and call 911, the GFC will know it is a permitted burn rather than a wildfire.

  • Sometimes a fire can get out of control and will need to be suppressed by a fire department.  If you don’t have a permit, you have to pay for the vehicles and man-hours involved for that suppression.  Could cost several thousand dollars.

  • The permit is free and easy to obtain.   You can call 1-877-OK2-BURN 7 days a week including holidays or apply online - get there here!

Anyone who would like to join our committee is welcome, we would love to have your input and creative ideas.  Please contact  Beth Rubio at 770-861-6940.


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