Our 2021 Chipper season is now complete and it is incredible to see the work that was done by Marin County residents and the chipping team. Read more from our Chipper Manager Steven Peters about the vegetation removal program and this year’s accomplishments.
Q: Explain how the Chipper program works?
Steven: Our Chipper program is a free curbside pickup service for all Marin residents that fall within one of the five Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority (MWPA) zones. Residents sign up online for a pre-scheduled week of service during our Chipping season held from May-October. When it is time for their area’s week of service, our crews will arrive at the resident’s home between 8am on Monday and 4pm on Friday to chip whatever vegetation is put out by the curb in front of the registered house, as long as it follows the pile guidelines. We divide the county into four regions (North, Central, West, South) and each region is assigned one 3-person crew from one of our two contractors to service all reservations for that area during their assigned week.
All covered communities will have two rounds of chipping available to them and are welcome and encouraged to sign up for both so as to maximize the amount of material they can have removed through our service.
Q: Wait. This is free? Who pays for the program?
S: The Chipper Day program is funded by the MWPA. That funding is made possible by a parcel tax on Marin County homes.
Q: How many residents did the program serve?
S: Our program completed 3,793 successful pickups at Marin County residences. That is 1,440 more pickups than our program completed in its first year and we are looking to continue this trend of expansion into the future.
Q: How much vegetation or “wildfire fuel” was removed?
S: This season our crews removed 14,654 cubic yards of material. This included both county residential properties and assisting fire districts with vegetation clearing projects.
As well as helping Marin residents remove vegetation and make their homes more fire-resistant, we were also able to reduce our carbon footprint. We accomplished this by consolidating what would otherwise have been multiple pickup trucks’ worth of material into our larger Chipper trucks, reducing the number of vehicles on the road. By our calculations, each one of our trucks is able to carry between 5 to 15 times more than a standard pickup truck.
Q: What did residents have to say about the program?
S: The response from residents has been overwhelmingly positive. Many residents share how thankful they are that the program exists and how it facilitates much-needed vegetation reduction and clearing. Many also express they are hopeful for the future expansion of the program to include more dates and a longer season.
Here are some examples of recent comments we have received from residents:
“We and all our neighbors are deeply appreciative of the service being provided by you and Fire Safe Marin.“
“Thanks again for this program together for our neighborhood – it was a huge help!“
“Thank you for the Chipper Day. Every measure helps.”
Q: What’s one of the best resident stories that reflect the benefits of the program?
S: My favorite stories are those that have to do with residents having the opportunity to remove years’ worth of undergrowth that has amassed on their property. In a county like Marin, with dense vegetation and many communities that border open spaces, this is an all-too-common story for us to hear. Being able to help and hear the relief in residents’ voices after they learn that there is a program available to help them remove such hazards from their homes is truly a testament to the benefits this program has to offer.
Q: What can residents expect next year?
S: Residents can expect the top-notch service from our program as they received this year. We will continue our model of offering two rounds of service to all communities beginning in late spring. Next season, we will be focused on expanding the program to include any areas that may have not been included in this year’s program. We also hope to increase our advertising for the program to ensure that we increase participation and give people more time to sign up.
Q: How can residents find out more about the program and register for a free chipper day?
S: Marin County residents are encouraged to visit https://www.chipperday.com/marin for more information about the Chipper program. Find information ranging from the materials we can take, where and how to arrange your pile, and how to sign up. During the chipping season, residents can pre-register through a simple two-step process.
Thank you to everyone who participated and helped with this program. Even though the Chipper season has come to a close, remember that you can use your green bin to remove vegetation. Winter is a great time to continue to prepare your home for fire and a rake is one of your best prevention tools!