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Park City annual wood chipping program sets record

Wood chipping starts May 30, but registration is open now.
Park City Fire District
The wood chipping program had a record year in 2023.

The free wood-chipping program offered by the Park City Fire District has ended for 2023 and chip crews were kept busy all summer long.

A record snowpack and a wet spring helped keep wildfires at bay in the Park City area this year. But when it’s hot and dry as it has been for several years leading up to this summer, Park City Fire District Marshal Mike Owens says clearing defensive space around homes is critical.

Homeowners can clear the trees and brush around their homes and the fire district will come by with its wood chipper and haul it away. Owens says crews were busier than ever, dealing with much larger piles.

“This summer was an incredible summer,” Owens said. “Typically, we track our piles by the number of piles registered. This year, we had about 900 piles registered, which is just a hair shorter than what we had last year. But one of the interesting things we've noticed is that the piles were larger this year. We also track how many times we empty our truck. And where last year we were doing right around two, two loads per day, this year we were hitting about two and a half loads per day.”

For residents who cleared their yards and were unable to get a reservation this season, Owens says unfortunately, they’ll just have to wait until next year.

“We try to serve as many people as possible,” Owens said. “And we typically stopped registrations around the first week of September. This year, because of the because of the size of the piles that we were seeing, we decided to stop them a little bit earlier. And then as a result, we had people who had put piles out that didn't register. But we tried to get most of those even after our crews had finished all of the registered piles, they were just driving around looking for more piles. So hopefully we got most of them. If we didn't, let us know.”

The service used to be first-come, first-served but he says they were only able to process about 600 piles a season. Now they do circuits around the district.

“As they moved into a neighborhood, they would chip the piles in that neighborhood then move on to the next neighborhood," he said. "And again, up until this year, we'd do maybe three or four laps around the district per season. But this season was just the number of piles. Looking back at why this happened, we try to better our program to keep us doing the best we can for the citizens of our district. I think that with this winter with the damage that was caused by the snow, we just had a huge, huge amount of wood to be processed.”

Depending on where the piles are, he says burning it can be one option, but it must be done carefully and requires a permit. Those interested can contact the fire district for more information.

Dumpster days at Recycle Utah are coming up at the end of the month and any yard or green waste can be hauled there.

If the piles get left out over the winter, he says it’s important that they’re away from the road, so snowplows don’t drag the material down the streets.