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Welcome to the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council’s (MCFSC) 2020 Community “Chipper Day” Program. A Chipper Day is when 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 limited number of chipper days in the greater Ukiah Valley and Brooktrails areas. (We are working on obtaining funding to to be able to roll out this offering in other areas of the county this fall, so stay posted.)

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!

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

  • Begin canvassing your neighbors to see if there is sufficient interest. The chipper crew will put in a full day. To be efficient we are looking for projects that can produce about 40 pickup truck bed sized loads of material to be chipped. (If your group is smaller let us know and we will see if we can combined your neighborhood group with another one to put together a full day’s effort.)
  • 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.


What Makes a Good Chipper Pile?

Some of the basics of a good chipper pile are provided below. When you start working on a Chipper Day in your neighborhood we will provide a more detailed list of requirements. For now, here are some basic things to know:

  • brush must be clean of metal, rock, or other debris that may damage equipment or pose a risk to operators (other guidelines will be provided);
  • piles should be no larger than one average pickup-truckload in size;
  • cut ends should face in the same direction, toward the road;
  • 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).

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.

workers turn trees into wood chips