The city is also planning to trim trees to help prevent more fires in the mostly natural area.
Kennewick, Wash. — Kennewick city officials say they’re committed to cleaning up Zintel Canyon after nine fires blackened 10 acres of the popular walking area this year and improve safety in the 65-acre mostly natural area in the center of town.
The city will be trimming trees, increasing police patrols and removing homeless camps.
Safety concerns in Zintel Canyon have grown this year after several homes were threatened by a series of fires between April and September.
While the city manages the park, some of the property is owned by a patchwork of agencies, including the irrigation district and Benton PUD.
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After the summer’s disastrous wild fire that destroyed five homes on the south side of the city, Kennewick officials formed a Hazard Mitigation team that aims to decrease the risk to people living at the edge of natural areas.
Zintel Canyon is one of their first targets, said city spokeswoman Evelyn Lusignan.
The first goal is to cut down low-hanging limbs that can carry fire on the ground into the trees and to widen the Spirit of America Trail so fire trucks can get to fires deeper in the canyon.
The city officials promised they weren’t going to remove the character of the area, but they want to make it safer.
They also plan to make cuts through the overgrowth to provide more access into the thick underbrush.
City officials also have a new plan for discouraging overnight camping in Zintel Canyon.
Normally when police come across a camp, officers are required to leave a notice, giving people three days to move their stuff. With the change in the city’s administrative code earlier this year, the city can remove the camp immediately.
In many of the cases, once a camp is cleared away the same people don’t show up again, Commander Chris Guerrero said.