What to do with forest debris?
Hi, We live on 20 acres in the foothills of the coast range. Our property is about 3/4 Douglas Fir with some stands of Oak the rest is meadow. We like to keep trails open through the property and have some open areas for a garden by the house. We find as the tress age and drop their branches and as we cut small trees or lower branches to keep some areas open we end up with a huge amount of woody debris. We use as much as we can in the wood stove but it isn’t practical to burn all the smaller branches. Most people seem to burn the debris but we worry about a burn pile getting out of control and we don’t like the air pollution from the burn piles. But we also worry by just letting piles build up and rot we are increasing our risk if there is a forest fire. What is the best thing to do?
Washington County Oregon composting
Thank you for your question. You are wrestling with a major ‘what do we do?’ issue that plagues many of us. There are no easy answers, but here is an OSU article with suggestions: https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/pnw609 Although it is intended for larger areas, it does capture our forest’s challenges. Hope it is helpful!