Thursday, December 13, 2012

Yo, DEP, How much wood could a wood-chipper stack?

With all the downed tree limbs and branches that are being chewed up an spit out (mechanically, of course) following Superstorm Sandy, the Garden State is looking
more like the Wood Chip State.

How much you ask? So darn much that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (even under the regulation-adverse administration of Republican Gov. Chris Christie) has found it necessary to promulgate a Wood Chip Management Guidance document.

Fortunately, the Department's three-page Compliance Advisory appears to rely heavily on common sense (the Republican influence?)  It tells you what you can use wood chips for
(lots of things) and what you can't (just a few--like clean fill).

Spreading 4-6 inches of the stuff under play equipment is permitted. Piling it up around
your tomato plants at four-foot depths is not encouraged.

Wood chips can be used as part of an approved soil-erosion plan. You also can add them
to your favorite sewage-composting recipe. The suggestion we like best is that you can
use them to create a garden path. We've always wanted a garden path. Maybe Sandy has forced our hand.

In fact, the advisory details quite a few permitted uses--a good thing, post-Sandy. And the DEP isn't getting heavy handed on the thou-shalt-not side, either. (Sorry, Sierra Club).

"If no other viable means of recycling/reuse is available," you can burn them in a resource recover plant, send them to a Class B wood recycler, or to an approved compost facility. If all else fails, you can even cart them off to a sanitary landfill (DEP cautions: 'as a last resort').

We note with interest that wood chip piles should not exceed 20 feet in height nor remain stockpiled for more than a year. In fact, piles that sit static for 6 months or more may be viewed as “abandoned.”

If only that would apply to the piles your son left behind when he moved in with his girlfriend.

You can read the full doc here. Still have questions? DEP's taking calls at: (609) 292-6305.

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