Castle Valley Comments
June 6, 2013
by Ron Drake
Jun 06, 2013 | 388 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Now that everyone had an opportunity to dispose of their construction material during the annual spring cleanup, which was held last May 18, we can get rid of all the brush and tree limbs that have been piling up. The Spring Chipper Days for the Castle Valley community is scheduled for June 18-20.

Registration is required with the state Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands for the chipper day by calling Alison Lerch at 435-210-0362 or Mike Harris at 435-210-4328. They will accept only green or dry brush and tree sections up to 10 inches in diameter and a minimum of 30 inches long. They ask that you pile the material along a driveway or road with the butt (or the larger) end facing the road at a 90-degree angle.

The material will be chipped in piles next to the road and the landowner does not need to be present. They will accept only natural vegetation and absolutely will not accept construction material, weeds, roots, metal, trash, or pallets. All the vegetation must be free of rocks, dirt and nails.

This will be a good opportunity to help make your home fire safe for the wildfire season ahead and Forestry, Fire and State Lands offers some guidelines for thinning vegetation and trimming trees on your property.

1. Remove all dead vegetation, both standing and down on your property.

2. Thin remaining trees, taking damaged, diseased, or leaning trees first, then trees less than nine inches in diameter. Next, thin out remaining trees so that all trees are 20 to 30 feet apart at the crowns.

3. Remove limbs of remaining trees from with four to six feet of the ground (vary this height from tree to tree).

4. Remove vegetation within 15 feet of any chimney opening.

5. Remove all vegetation, debris, and flammable material from beneath wood decks, stairs, or eaves of buildings, or within 25 feet of propane tanks.

6. Remove decaying leaves and brush down to bare earth from within three to four feet of all structures.

Now, if you plan to use the wood chips from the pile left behind from the chipper on your flower beds and garden, it will have many positive attributes. It reduces the water requirement of plants, cools the soil temperature, controls weeds and soil erosion, and visually enhances the landscape. But a major drawback is that it is combustible, which presents a huge problem in fire prone areas like ours. Embers from an approaching wildfire can ignite areas where mulch, including wood chips, is used. If these areas are adjacent to the home, it could wind up being a disastrous mix.

An evaluation of mulch combustibility was performed in 2008 by the Carson City Fire Department, the Nevada Tahoe Conservation District, the University of California Cooperative Extension, and the University of Nevada Cooperation Extension. The results from the project offer recommendations for uses of mulches in wildfire hazard areas.

Mulch can be defined as any material that is used to cover the soil surface for a variety of purposes. It can be classified as organic or inorganic. Organic mulches usually come from plant materials and includes pine needles, pine bark nuggets, shredded western cedar, and wood chips similar to those left behind by the chipper, and even ground or shredded rubber. Inorganic mulches consist of rock, gravel, brick chips, and volcanic rock. These inorganic mulches tend not to burn and are safe to use in any setting. Eight mulch treatments were evaluated for three characteristics: flame height, rate of fire spread and temperature. All eight mulches were found to be combustible but varied considerably in the three areas measured.

Shredded rubber, pine needles and wood chips showed the greatest potential for all three characteristics. Shredded rubber burned at the hottest temperature and produced the greatest flame length at more than three feet. The wood chips had the most rapid rate of spread and produced embers that moved beyond the plot perimeter.

What this all boils down to is that you can use your pile of wood chips for mulch around your property but not near your house or other structures. Pat and I developed a small flower garden next to our house by the back door and were considering a variety of mulch options found in abundance around our property. We have plenty of pine cones, pine needles and several piles of wood chips from the chipper day last year, but after reading the report we decided to purchase volcanic rock instead. The wood chips will still be used but in the garden, which is located away from the house, and other distant locations where mulch is needed but will not pose a danger to structures.

***

Next Tuesday, June 11, at 6:30 p.m., will be the last community potluck dinner until September. The monthly event takes a break in the summer when people are busy with summer projects and the days stay light until 9 in the evening.

Next Tuesday, in addition to the dinner, Bureau of Land Management archeologist and Castle Valley resident Don Montoya will deliver a presentation entitled “Myth-stakes about Rock Art.” Everyone is welcome to the dinner or to come listen to the PowerPoint presentation after the dinner at about 7 p.m.

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