Example of a well-built pile in preparation for the wood chipping program taking place in Plumas County beginning Monday, May 24. Photo by Plumas County Fire Safe Council

Preparing for the fire season ahead with chipping program

By Lauren Westmoreland

“We are conducting a curbside chipping program to select areas throughout the County between May and September,” organizers state on thePlumas Fire Safe website. The Plumas County Fire Safe Council provides chipping services as an alternative to pile burning.

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This benefits air quality and reduces risk of escapes as an alternative to dumping, as well as reducing costs and hauling for residents and keeping green waste out of landfills. This program is also acting as an alternative to no action, incentivizing the creation and maintenance of defensible space.

The community chipping program operates strictly during the weeks scheduled for each community around Plumas County. Each parcel owner can participate on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Preparing your piles well in advance of the chipping date is recommended. “Don’t stack piles within your defensible space,” organizers said. “If the chipping service is delayed, you don’t want dry material next to your home during fire season.”

Reservations are provided on a first-come, first-served basis. When the council has reached capacity, any additional registrants will be placed on a waitlist. Residents on the waitlist will not receive chipping unless they receive a confirmation email. 

“Pickup will occur within five days of the stated pickup date, depending on volume and the number of reservations,” organizers said.

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Chipping program schedule

 The first round of chipping will take place between May 24 through May 28 for the communities of Twain, Indian Falls, Taylorsville, Genesee, Greenville, Lake Almanor, and Chester.

For two weeks between June 1 through June 11, the communities of Quincy, Meadow Valley, Bucks Lake, Greenhorn, Cromberg, and Sloat will be served.

June 14 through June 18 will see chipping take place for the communities of Graeagle, Plumas Eureka, Clio, C-Road, Mohawk Vista, Valley Ranch, and Smith Creek Ranch.

Between June 21 through June 25, the communities of Gold Mountain, Portola, Lake Davis, Chilcoot, Vinton, and Grizzly Ranch will be served.

The second round of chipping will kick of between Aug. 23 through Aug. 27 for Twain, Indian Falls, Taylorsville, Genesee, Greenville, Lake Almanor, and Chester.

Aug. 30 through Sept. 3 will be another round for Quincy, Meadow Valley, Bucks Lake, Greenhorn, Cromberg, and Sloat.

The two weeks of Sept. 7 through Sept. 17 will bring another round of chipping to Graeagle, Plumas Eureka, Clio, C-Road, Mohawk Vista, Valley Ranch, and Smith Creek Ranch.

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Finally, the season will wrap up with a final round of chipping between Sept. 20 through Sept. 24 for the Gold Mountain, Portola, Lake Davis, Chilcoot, Vinton, and Grizzly Ranch communities.

If you don’t see your community on the schedule contact the program manager, Gary Parque at 283-0829 to determine the week that you can be included.

The Community Chipping Program operates strictly during the weeks scheduled for each community.  Each parcel owner can participate on a first-come, first-served basis. Preparing your piles well in advance of the chipping date is recommended. It is stressed not to stack piles within your defensible space. If the chipping service is delayed, you don’t want dry material next to your home during fire season.

Guidelines

The Plumas County Fire Safe Council provides no-cost chipping for up to 16 linear feet of material that is no more than four feet in depth, or the height of the pile. No material in excess of this amount will be chipped by this program.

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If your pile is in excess of the allotted amount, the operator will leave the additional material unchipped.  It is necessary that individual pieces be no shorter than three feet in length and it is preferable that they are no longer than 12 feet.

To ensure that your piles are chipped, the council gives a list of recommendations to the community. Priorities include building neat piles with all cut ends facing toward the street, as well as ensuring that piles contain no rocks, metal, mud, poison oak, scotch broom, vines, blackberries, or building materials.

All are requested to locate piles on level ground, or on the uphill side of the road, outside of drainages, build piles in areas that can be easily accessed with a truck, and to include only materials that are longer than three feet in length.

“Loose” piles are preferable to tightly packed material. All are asked to be respectful of the contractors’ time.

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The community program is notable to chip roots or decaying wood, pinecones, pine needles, leaves, or yard clippings or piles that are over four feet high or built over standing vegetation.

Other unacceptable items include large diameter materials that will not fit through the chipper opening. “Please cut material that cannot be easily compacted so that it is no wider than 12 inches,” organizers request.

It also required that participants leave out any short pieces that will endanger the chipper operators, as well as piles constructed with mechanical assistance, such as with a tractor.   

For those who would like to make a tax-deducible donation to support an annual Chipping Program, please send a check to Plumas County Fire Safe Council, Attention: Hannah Hepner, PO Box 1225, Quincy CA 95971.

For more information on the program, contact Gary Parque via mail at c/o Plumas County Fire Safe Council

P.O. Box 1225, Quincy, CA 95971 or via phone at 927-5335. Parque is also available via email at [email protected].

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