4. Mother Nature
Remote locations can provide stunning scenic beauty. However, residents of rural areas usually experience more problems when the elements and earth turn unfriendly. Here are some thoughts for you to consider:
4.1 Reduce Danger
The physical characteristics of your property can be positive and negative. Trees are a wonderful environmental amenity, but can also involve your home in a forest fire. Homes built in forested area face the very real potential of being damaged or destroyed by wildland fires. As rural residential development progresses, livestock grazing is displaced. This results in accumulated "ladder fuels" to feed a wildland fire. Here are a few simple things a property owner can do to reduce the danger:
- Be prepared. Respect the danger of fire in wildland areas by learning more about wildland fires.
- Clear land around the house of excess trees and ground vegetation; a minimum 30 foot clear or "defensible space" around structures, consisting of maintained and watered lawn pruned shrubs and trees can help mitigate the spread of wildland fires to building.
- Wooden decks may harbor sparks or smoldering fires which, undetected, and may later access your home.
- Replace combustible roofs and other building materials with non-combustibles; store other combustible materials such as firewood away from your house.
- Maintain adequate access roads and driveways and remove overgrowth and flammable vegetation immediately adjacent to the traveled roadway.
- Have your address posted and visible at the intersection of your driveway.
- Provide a reliable water supply.
- Develop a fire safety plan for your home and your family.
- If you start a wildland fire, you may be responsible for paying for the cost of extinguishing that fire. For further information on fire safety, you can contact the Klickitat County Planning Department, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, and your local rural Fire District.
4.2 Rock Slides
Steep slopes can slide in unusually wet weather. Large rocks can also roll down steep slopes and present a great danger to people and property.
4.3 Soil Conditions
Expansive soils can buckle concrete foundations and twist steel I-beams. You can determine the soil conditions on your property if you have a soil test performed or consult a soil classification map, when available.
4.4 Snow Accumulation
North facing slopes or canyons rarely see direct sunlight in the winter. There is a possibility that snow will accumulate and not melt throughout the winter.
4.5 Water Flow
The topography of the land will tell you where water will go in the case of heavy precipitation. Pay close attention to these areas in order to determine how water will flow on your land and develop your land accordingly.
4.6 Roof Snow Removal
Snow removal from roofs, especially for manufactured homes, may be necessary. If you plan to site a manufactured home be sure the roof is rated for the expected snow load at your homesite.
4.7 Creek Flooding
Winter and spring run-off or a heavy rainfall can cause a very small creek to become a major river. It is wise to take this possibility into consideration when building. You need to ask if your property is in a flood zone. If it is, construct your home and outbuildings above the flooded areas. Construction in frequently flooded areas is regulated by the County Planning Department. The County does not provide sand, sandbags, equipment, or people to protect private property from flooding.
Nature can provide you with some wonderful neighbors. Most wild animals, such as deer and eagles, are positive additions to the environment. However, even "harmless" animals like deer can cross the road unexpectedly and cause traffic accidents. Rural development often encroaches on the traditional habitat of coyotes, bobcats, cougar, bear, rattlesnakes, raccoons, skunks, porcupines, mice, mosquitoes, ticks, and other creatures that can be dangerous or become a nuisance. You need to know how to deal with them safely, legally and effectively. In general, it is best to enjoy wildlife from a distance. Let the animals be themselves, watch them, but avoid chasing them or allowing your pets to do so. Also know that if you do not handle your pet refuse and trash properly, it could cause problems for you and the wildlife. The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Klickitat County Health District are two good resources for information. They have many free publications to help educate you about rural living.
Many areas in the County are open for hunting. Hunting, while providing recreational opportunities, is a tool for managing wildlife populations. Landowners do not have to post their property. Hunters are trespassing if they enter posted or unposted property without the landowner's permission. Be cautious that you may encounter individuals who trespass, litter and fire guns, especially during hunting seasons.
Household pets that are allowed to roam may endanger or harm wildlife and may be subject to termination by wildlife officers, other law enforcement personnel or other landowners.