A smart, air-friendly alternative to backyard burning

This is the 21st century, is it not?

The reason behind my asking is because in this day and age, one would think outdoor burning of yard clippings and trimmings would be outlawed, especially in California, a state with some of the most stringent air-quality regulations anywhere. Well, in the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County, it is apparently okay – with the proper permit – to burn backyard clippings and cuttings. Fortunately for Santa Ynez Valley residents, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department has instituted a one-year trial program that provides chipping services. Now, area residents – at least for a year, anyway – have an air-friendly alternative to burning yard cuttings, an air-polluting process.

“This pilot program will provide property owners with Residential Dry Vegetation Burning (Backyard Burning) permits an alternative to burning tree trimmings and other yard waste,” the Santa Barbara County Fire Department expressed in a Mar. 3, 2015 news release.

This alternative to burning offers a practical solution to deal with yard refuse in both an effective and less air- and health-damaging way.

“‘We are developing this program in response to complaints we have received about smoke and poor air quality in the Santa Ynez Valley as a result of permit burning,’ said Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Eric Peterson,” as he was cited in the release.

Is it any wonder? Sorry, but this seems like a no-brainer.

And, why only a year?!

There was nothing mentioned in the release about extending the program. Could it be that the number of staff available to provide such services is limited and/or that the Santa Ynez Valley, depending on how many requests are made, could spread thin what program resources there are? What was, however, communicated was that the program may be expanded “to include chipping for Fire Hazard Reduction Burning permit holders,” which “could further reduce the amount of smoke produced from permit burns.”

“Utilizing the recently reinstituted Hand Crew, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department will offer permit holders who request the service, a visit from the Hand Crew with a wood chipper and dump truck. The Hand Crew will chip the vegetation free of charge beyond the $50 permit fee. The wood chips can be used by the property owners as mulch which further reduces fire danger, or it can be hauled away,” the fire-fighting agency declared in the release.

Also according to information presented, the program was supposed to have taken effect on Apr. 1st.

3 thoughts on “A smart, air-friendly alternative to backyard burning”

  1. Why not compress and pack in air tight container with enough moisture be adding an Anaerobic microbe and leave it enoug time to get decomposed products useful for organic manure for later use?

    • Why the county even with appropriate permits allows yard waste burning is beyond me.

      In Fresno, waste pickup is once per week and there is a bin (colored green) for most yard waste. Large tree roots or branches (those over a certain length and/or diameter) are not accepted for obvious reasons. Mowed grass, leaves, twigs, small tree branches and roots can all go in the bin for curbside pickup.

      Once per year there is a program whereby the larger yard discards can be placed along the curb for removal and disposing of.

      Above and beyond this, I remember a time when I used to haul the larger yard waste to a local wood-recycling facility for disposal of such. The material was processed into wood chips, sawdust and if I remember correctly compost, all for resale.

      Burning this refuse is the most undesirable and most non-environmentally friendly way to dispose of it. It is waste, plain and simple, and when burned it just creates more waste that enters the atmosphere in the form of smoke and microscopic debris.

      The positive in this is that through complaints being lodged by community residents, a way has been initiated to handle the waste in a more environmentally friendly and safe manner. That’s key.

  2. I agree with H.R Reddy, compressing the yard cuttings and adding an anaerobic microbe will have a positive effect on both the community and the person implementing the idea. For instance, you’ll be using less money to buy manure and living “green” since you’ll be saving the environment from air pollution and undoubtedly reducing your carbon footprint.

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