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Free chipping program helps residents create defensible space to protect homes from wildfire
Contacts:Dan Schroder, Director, Summit County CSU Extension970-668-4140; firstname.lastname@example.orgCommissioner Dan Gibbs, Chair, Summit County Wildfire Council970-333-4707; email@example.com
SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit County government is kicking off the 2015 Summit County Chipping Program on June 29. The free program helps residents and property owners create defensible space by providing free chipping and disposal of branches, logs and small trees that elevate wildfire risk around homes.
From the end of June through early October, chipping crews will travel throughout each residential neighborhood in Summit County. Property owners can clear woody vegetation from around their homes and stack it in a slash pile near the road on their neighborhood’s designated chipping week. The crews will chip the material and haul it away at no charge.
“Fire is a natural part of our environment in Summit County, and we have to adapt to that risk by creating defensible space around our homes,” said Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs, who chairs the Summit County Wildfire Council. “The chipping program makes it easier and more affordable for residents and property owners to take action.”
Defensible space is an area around a home where trees, shrubs and other vegetation are cleared or reduced to slow the spread of wildfire toward the building. Defensible space creates a safe zone for firefighters to carry out their work, and it reduces the chance that a structure fire will move to the surrounding forest. Local fire districts offer free defensible-space assessments for residents and property owners.
The Summit County Chipping Program is available to all county residents and property owners. Each neighborhood in Summit County will have two separate weeks during which residents may set out slash piles for chipping and removal. On June 29, crews will begin chipping and removing slash in Frisco, Copper and the southernmost neighborhoods of unincorporated Summit County. Detailed schedules and maps, broken down by neighborhood and subdivision, are available online at www.co.summit.co.us/chippingprogram.
The 2015 Summit County Chipping Program is funded in part through a $100,000 grant from the Colorado Division of Natural Resources, through the agency’s Wildfire Risk Reduction Grant Program. Summit County is matching the grant with funding from a countywide property tax approved by voters in 2008.
“We’re so thankful that the state is helping us make this program possible once again in Summit County,” said Dan Schroder, director of Summit County CSU Extension. “Last year, we found that there was an unbelievable demand for this service, so we’re excited to be able to continue it in 2015.”
The Summit County Chipping Program will accept trees, logs and branches up to 9 inches in diameter, free of nails, wire and rope. Chipping crews will not accept construction materials, treated lumber, fence posts, willows, shrubs, root wads, stumps, weeds, bagged materials, grass clippings or trash.
Slash piles must be stacked by 8 a.m. on the Monday of the neighborhood’s designated chipping week. Piles must be stacked neatly, with large ends of branches facing the road, within 5 feet of the roadway. The maximum pile size is 5 feet long, 5 feet wide and 5 feet deep. There is no limit to the number of piles a property owner may set out. Residents who plan to put out 10 or more piles are asked to notify Summit County CSU Extension by calling 970-668-4139 prior to their neighborhood’s chipping week.
To keep chips for mulch or other purposes, participating residents may tie a red ribbon or flagging in a prominent spot on the pile. Piles may not be combined with neighbors' or placed in other neighborhoods.
For more information about the Summit County Chipping Program, including neighborhood chipping schedules, materials guidelines and pile guidelines, visit www.co.summit.co.us/chippingprogram or contact the Colorado State University Extension office in Summit County at 970-668-4139.