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We have reached our maximun funding for this program. We are still accepting applications at this time for spring 2021. Please fill out our applications and you will be put on our waiting list. Thank you.

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 organize multiple homes or properties in the same area to do defensible space and/or roadside clearing projects.  Then 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 that can happen throughout Mendocino County.

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:

  • 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 to step into the property to remove your piles.
  • Prepare a map of planned chipper pile locations.
  • Make sure EVERYONE IN YOUR GROUP RECEIVES CHIPPER PILE GUIDELINES (see below)!  Chipper piles that are not properly organized, include inappropriate or unsafe materials, or are not accessible for a large truck with a chipper, will not be processed and become the landowner’s responsibility.   Select and help train project “brush pile inspectors” as well as making sure that all participants obtain basic education about proper pile preparation.
  • Determine which members of your group would like to received a pile (or more) of chipped material.
  • Determine who will be responsible for providing us a list or map of pile locations the week before your scheduled chipper day.
  • Arrange for taking “before” and “after” photography in GPS-marked locations.
  • Establish a practice for documenting neighborhood volunteer labor hours and contributions using this convenient Tracking Sheet.
  • 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.

Note:  Not all applications will be approved.  Do not begin work that depends on MCFSC chipping services until you are contacted by the MCFSC and we have confirmed we can meet your request and scheduled a date.

What Makes a Good Chipper Pile?

If you have a Community Chipper Day scheduled for your area soon
please see this document for the detailed requirements for your chipper

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′;
  • no material should be longer than 10 feet long or 6 inches in diameter;
  • piles should not include any metal, roots or stumps, poison oak, oleander, vines, spiny plants, roses, blackberry, broom or gorse (or other known invasive species),  rakings or piles of needles, leaves 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, cut ends should face in the same direction, toward the road, and all piles must be in locations readily accessible for a large chipper truck towing a chipper;
  • 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 your 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.

workers turn trees into wood chips