What to do with that slash!?! by Linda Martin & Jody Dickson
Saws & Slaws has been chugging along this summer and we still have plenty to accomplish. We have been really excited to be debating the ever present question “what is the best thing to do with the slash?” Believe it or not, there seem to be multiple answers and lots of variables to consider. Slash is a pain in the ash. It’s the bain of fire mitigation and takes a lot of energy, time and money to deal with. Here are all the choices (see where you would lie on the spectrum):
– cut tree and process firewood, leave slash on the ground to eventually become one with the earth. This is the cheapest and laziest method. Unfortunately, your neighbors won’t be thanking you and the sheer amount of dry fuels left in the forest adds risk of fire BACK into the equation. Some people use slash piles as “fencing”. Also not popular! Some people are doing “hügelkultur” which seems pretty cool in my book. You’ll have to Google it. Anyway…
– cut tree, process firewood, build permitted burn piles, wait for ideal conditions in winter (6″ of snow and low wind). Depending on your county, this could cost up to $80 for a burn permit. You have to “look at” your slash for many months. It takes time to burn it all but no additional money, unless you hire someone to do the burn. I don’t know any more about that but I will say it is a perfectly viable solution when done well.
– cut tree, process firewood, load slash into a truck or trailer and haul away. This costs labor for the loading and gas for the truck/trailer. If you are taking it to the Gilpin or Ned Sort Yard, May to Oct, it’s free. If you take advantage of Jeffco slash days, this year Thurs-Sunday on the last three weekends in October and the first in November, they will charge $20 for a standard pick up load. You have to have a way to get it there. On occasion we have enough volunteers and trucks/trailers to help. We charge double the drop off fee, so as to make some money for our 501(c)3 organization, which helps motivate the troops 🙂
– cut tree, process firewood, run slash through a chipper and re-broadcast back onto your property. Mulch is acidic and can add challenge to plants trying to grow. The mulch, until it breaks down in about 10 years (from my experience) also adds a layer of combustible material to your forest floor. You also need to keep mulch levels below 3 inches so they don’t provide any risks for spontaneous combustion/fire. Good chippers are expensive. Some people like the idea of putting the mulch back into the forest, as it represents future dirt.
– cut tree, process firewood, chip slash into truck bed/trailer with sides, haul away. This is sounding great to many of us at Saws & Slaws. Other than not replenishing the forest floor, it is the best of all possible worlds in terms of fire mitigation. Slash. Gone. Now. But it is also the most expensive. Even if dumping the mulch is free, there’s the cost of the chipping and the cost of the hauling.
– cut tree, process firewood, feed slash to goats. Yes! This would be awesome! If only we all had goats….
So, there it is. No perfect answer but maybe the perfect solution for your situation?
And now, speaking of volunteers, I know this Canyon has a ton of big hearted people in it. Many volunteer organizations rely on the same collection of do-gooders to help with myriad tasks. Saws & Slaws is no different. We not only rely on volunteers, but we often need LOTS of you to accomplish our goals. As the Volunteer Coordinator, I have not done a great job of getting the word out. I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit burned out myself. I have resorted to asking individuals to help me with smaller tasks, so as not to drown in the requests for help. My colleagues are all just as busy as I am and we have been doing this for over 10 years now. I’m sorry to all the people who have reached out but have not been helped yet. I am networking with the team to get done what we have promised, finish out the summer events, and then take some time to regroup. If your request with us is “dangling”, please reach out to us and remind us. 720-326-7739. We really do want to help!
Speaking of events, we have a full schedule for September! We have rescheduled Dana’s Saw Maintenance Class to Saturday, September 10. Email us at email@example.com if you would like to attend. As always, Dana is donating his time and expertise so the class is free. Location TBD. On September 17th we have an Saws & Slaws event with three neighbors working together to make their areas safer on Ranch Elsie near the school. There are some exciting trees need to come down on that impressive rock outcropping! We need some sawyers (and plenty of swampers) on that one for sure! On Saturday, September 24th, we plan to have a chipping event off the Gap road, so we will be heavy on swampers and light on sawyers for that one.
We are going to try to eek in one final event, weather permitting, in October. The Jeffco Slash Days and firewood processing will also be happening in October, but that will be it on our 2022 season. If you want to get on our 2023 list, please contact us as soon as possible!
We hope you can join us for some of these. It’s been a great summer and we wish you all well! Thanks to all our volunteers!
Featured Volunteer – Andy Melick
Our featured volunteer for this month is steady, strong, and multi-talented. He has been volunteering with us since 2017, and he is such a calming and quietly joyful presence every time that it is a comfort to work along side him. While he may not have racked up a huge amount of hours (yet!), he consistently helps us whenever he can for as long as he can. It is volunteers like Andy who make it possible for us to do what we do. We don’t need every one to volunteer at every event. We need a lot of volunteers, like Andy, who come when they can, apply their experience and expertise, and are willing to do the work. When we have volunteers like him, we share the wealth of the work which makes it easier for everyone! Thank you, Andy, for your consistent service. We are grateful to have you working with us!
Let’s find out more about Andy…
What’s your favorite Tree? Ponderosa Pine
What neighborhood do you live in? Crescent Park
If you had to evacuate right now what would you grab? External Hard Drive, which contains stories I’ve written and photographs.
How did you find out about Saws and Slaws? Mountain Messenger
What motivates you to devote your time to fire mitigation with Saws and Slaws? I enjoy getting to know other folks in the canyon and helping people mitigate their properties.
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten at the Potluck? Juicy watermelon on a hot day.
What’s your favorite thing about Coal Creek Canyon? Two things – the peace and quiet around my house; the rock formations on the canyon walls.