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County Launching Chipping Pilot Program in Effort to Improve Air Quality

In an effort to reduce smoke production and improve air quality in the Santa Ynez Valley, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department will be offering a neighborhood chipping pilot program.

This pilot program will provide property owners with valid Residential Dry Vegetation Burning (Backyard Burning) permits, an alternative to burning tree trimmings and other yard waste.

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.

“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,” Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Eric Peterson said. “The concept is to reduce the smoke from backyard burns by chipping the vegetation, rather than burning it.”

“After receiving numerous calls to my office about the poor air quality in the Santa Ynez Valley caused by these burns, I asked Fire Chief Peterson if there might be other options to tackle this issue," Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr said. "I’m happy to see this program offered to the public as another choice to rid their property of vegetation.”

The pilot program will roll out for a period of one year and is expected to begin on April 1  If the program is well-received, the program may expand to include chipping for Fire Hazard Reduction Burning permit holders. This could further reduce the amount of smoke produced from permit burns.

— Capt. David Sadecki is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.


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