Driving through the Monte Bella neighborhood off of Mount Shasta’s McCloud Avenue last week, countless piles of dead manzanita and other slash was stacked neatly along the streets waiting to be chipped.

Driving through the Monte Bella neighborhood off of Mount Shasta’s McCloud Avenue last week, countless piles of dead manzanita and other slash was stacked neatly along the streets waiting to be chipped.

The neighborhood-wide cleanup is a collaboration between local residents, Mt. Shasta Area Fire Safe Council, Mount Shasta City Fire Department, Mount Shasta Fire Protection District and CAL FIRE, said Dr. Alan Cohn, who lives in the area and orchestrated the effort.

Cohn said he works to keep his own property clear of excessive fuels, but wanted to take advantage of the heightened awareness last year’s devastating fire season brought to the Mt. Shasta area.

Cohn reached out to Dale and Giselle Nova, co-facilitators of the Mt. Shasta Fire Safe Council, who helped them access a wood chipper through CAL FIRE Battalion Chief Scott Tavalero.

At first, property owners volunteered to run the chipper themselves, but due to liability issues, CAL FIRE agreed to operate it with the assistance of other local fire department personnel, said Cohn.

Private land owners in the Monte Bella area, including Shasta Acres, Lotus, Monroe, Alpine and Shasta Way removed brush, thinned trees and limbed up their trees, said Cohn.

“We have had a great response with a high level of participation and we now have a tremendous collection of slash piled up,” he said.

“I think this is an amazing opportunity for our neighborhood to be able to get our yards/homes in fire safe condition,” said Marni Posl, who lives in the Monte Shasta neighborhood and participated in the effort. “I have to applaud the efforts of Alan Cohn in organizing this endeavor and getting all the neighbors on board ... Hopefully, other Mount Shasta neighborhoods will follow suit.”

Cohn said he created a flyer explaining the opportunity and distributed it the approximately 40 homes in his neighborhood. About 30 homeowners took advantage of the opportunity, Cohn said.

Monte Shasta is in the middle of a manzanita field, and many of the parcels are adjacent to National Forest land, an interface identified as high risk for wildfire, Cohn said, making it even more important to reduce fuels to prevent wind driven fires.

Residents were encouraged to begin trimming and removing underbrush in February, but work began in earnest in March once much of the heavy snow melted, Cohn said.

Chipping began over the weekend, but because of the large amount of debris, work will continue this week and possibly next, said CAL FIRE public information officer Suzi Brady.

Tavalero said at this point, it is difficult to estimate the amount of slash removed from the Monte Bella neighborhood, but it is impressive. He added it’s a project that CAL FIRE is happy to help with.

“Anything we can do to help homeowners make their homes safe also helps keep our firefighters safe,” he said.

The chipper that is being used for the project belongs to the county, Tavalero said, and it was obtained with grant funding.

Cohn recognized the Novas for their work in keeping Siskiyou County communities fire safe.

“They have been working for years writing grants and managing projects,” Cohn said. “Now, they have the attention of the community.”

He added that the Mt. Shasta area is prime for wildfires, since there has not been one in the area for several years and the forests are loaded with fuel.

Brady said members of other neighborhoods that would like to take advantage of such a partnership should start by attending a meeting for one of Siskiyou County’s 21 fire safe councils.

“All the stakeholders will be at those meetings, and when they all come together, that’s how these projects happen,” Brady said.

To find the fire safe council nearest you, go to www.firesafesiskiyou.com.