Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Mendocino County Fire Safe Council Offering Free Chipping Services to Increase Defensible Space


The following statement was issued by the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council:

Welcome to the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council’s (MCFSC) 2020 Community “Chipper Day” Program. A Chipper Day is when the MCFSC< individual(s) or a neighborhood group organizes multiple homes or properties in the same area to do defensible space and/or roadside clearing projects and we arrange to have a chipper crew come chip all of the limbs and brush and either scatter or haul it away – which significantly reduces the cost and labor involved in making your neighborhood and home safer in the event of a wildfire.

Currently the MCFSC has funding for a number of chipper days in the greater Ukiah Valley and Brooktrails areas. Also, in July 2020 the MCFSC received a grant from PG&E that will enable us to organize a number of chipper days throughout the county!  That will start with a chipper day in Hopland (in thanks to the Hopland Fire Department that has been graciously storing our chipper) on either 8/11 or 8/12.  After that the chipper will be moving on to Anderson Valley.  If you are interested in having a pile chipped at your property, please contact us at firesafe@pacific.net.

For a bit more of an orientation check out this Chipper Day video produced by our project partner Family Tree Resource:


Thanks for checking out the program. Working together we can all make Mendocino County a safer, more wildfire resilient home for us all!

What follows are IDEAL guidelines for chipper day organization.  But, we can work with you.  If you are concerned that you might not meet all of the listed requirements, give us a call and we will see what we can work out.

If you are interested in scheduling a Chipper Day for your neighborhood here are the steps:

-Consider also organizing work parties to help any of your neighbors who cannot manage their own clearing effort. The safer your neighbor’s home is the safer yours is as well. If you would like to arrange for one day accident insurance for your work crew the MCFSC can help with that as well.

-Select a neighborhood project leader to begin working with the MCFSC work on scheduling your chipper day. We will typically require at least a month’s lead time.

-Begin collecting Landowner Access Agreements (LAA) from each property owner where chipper piles will be located. We will need them on file for the chipper crew to be able step into the property to remove your piles.

-Prepare a map of planned chipper pile locations.

-Select and help train project “brush pile inspectors” as well as making sure that all participants obtain basic education about proper pile preparation.

-Arrange for taking “before” and “after” photography in GPS-marked locations.

-Establish a practice for documenting neighborhood volunteer labor hours and contributions.

-Consider also organizing work parties to help any of your neighbors who cannot manage their own clearing effort. The safer your neighbor’s home is the safer yours is as well. If you would like to arrange for one day accident insurance for your work crew the MCFSC can help with that as well.

If desired MCFSC can help present the project at a meeting of your neighborhood group.

I want to apply for the 2020 Chipper program!


If you have a Community Chipper Day scheduled for your area soon

please see this document for the detailed requirements for your chipper pile. Chipper pile guidelines

General guidelines are:

-brush must be clean of metal, rock, or other debris that may damage equipment or pose a risk to operators (bulldozed or machine stacked piles cannot be processed);

-individual piles should be no larger than one large pickup-truckload in size and no taller than 5′;

-piles should not include any metal, roots or stumps, poison oak, oleander, vines, spiny plants, roses, blackberry, broom or gorse (or other know invasive species),  rakings or piles of needles, leave or grass, construction type wood or fence posts;

-piles should be near the road or drive, accessible to the crew and not on a steep slope , with cut ends should face in the same direction, toward the road;

-if possible, brush-cutting should occur within a few days of Chipper Days, for easier chipping and reduced fire risk from piles sitting out on roadsides;

-crews should never be interrupted or distracted while working;

-landowners may choose whether chips will be removed or left onsite (unless invasive species are detected in a chipper in which case all chipped material will need to be hauled away).

-If you pile does not comply with the above guidelines it will not be chipped and you will be responsible for disposing of the unchipped material.  Residents are requested to document all hours spent and dollars expended during meetings, buying equipment, working around their homes, or paying others to clear defensible-space brush. Some of our grant funding requires a match donated by community members, making continued funding possible. Thanks for helping make Community Chipper Days possible and Mendocino County a safer place to live.

The featured image is a graphic that demonstrates “Defensible Safe Zones” developed by ReadyforWildfire.or

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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