Summit County set to start summer chipping program June 29 | SummitDaily.com

Summit County set to start summer chipping program June 29

Elise Reuter
ereuter@summitdaily.com

Summit County's wood chipping program is set to go, with crews coming out to neighborhoods starting June 29. Crews will make two sweeps through each neighborhood between June and October, picking up piles of unwanted slash from the curb.

Following the success of last year's program, with just over 1,400 homes participating (300 of which requested a second pickup), county officials are doubling their efforts this year. Thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Department of Natural Resources, the county will bring in two crews to work simultaneously in the north and south sides of the county.

"We're just really excited to continue this program a second year. Last year was a huge success, so we're hoping that it will be a success this year too," said Summit County commissioner Dan Gibbs.

Homeowners should stack unwanted slash by 8 a.m. on the Monday of their neighborhood's pickup, in 5-foot by 5-foot piles close to the road. Piles should not contain any leftover construction materials, fence posts, willow branches, shrubs, stumps, weeds or rocks. These materials cannot be disposed of as the mulch will be sent to the power plant in Gypsum, and other materials may contaminate the process.

"It just doesn't work with a biomass plant," Gibbs said. "There's more of a likelihood of contamination with construction materials, with nails or scraps mixed in. There are a lot of glues and pesticides with the construction board material."

Homeowners who wish to keep the wood chippings may tie a strand of red yarn or flagging in a prominent place on the slash pile.

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"We'll head down every street and we'll find it. We're trying to make it as easy as possible for the homeowner, but they do have to do the work to get the slash out," Gibbs said. "I would recommend they start as early as possible to start planning, so that the piles are out there and ready to go."

Spreading the word

Sarah Thorsteinson, executive director of the Summit Association of Realtors, said the nonprofit would partner with the county again to spread word of the program to local homeowners. She said the association sent out 12,000 mailers last year, and will send out as many this year, with the help of a $8,268 grant from Colorado Association of Realtors Issues Mobilization Committee.

"Last year's program had a huge response from the public," Thorsteinson said. "The firefighters got an overwhelming number of calls."

The mailer also includes information about wildfire mitigation and preparedness strategies at home. For example, Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue is offering free defensible space evaluations this summer to inform homeowners of ways to reduce fire danger with landscaping and vegetation, as well as preparing an emergency evacuation kit.

This is especially important in Summit as the county has more properties on the wildland urban interface than any county in the state, with 22,866 properties at risk for a wildfire.

"It's basically an area where the forest meets an urban environment," Thorsteinson said. "That's why the realtors are so engaged in this issue."

She added that since fire departments often have difficulty contacting homeowners, who may have been away for more than a year, the association contacts them so they may request others to haul slash from their property.

The slash program will run from June 29 through Oct. 2. To request a free defensible space evaluation, contact your local fire department: Copper Mountain Fire at (970) 333-5209; Lake Dillon Fire at (970) 262-5209; or Red, White and Blue Fire at (970) 423-2474.