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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Severe storms impact Virginia. What To Do With The Debris?

A massive storm system that set records on Tuesday in the mid-west for the lowest surface pressure ever observed in the continental United States from a non-tropical cyclone impacted Virginia yesterday.
The rain was needed BUT we sure did NOT need the damage that accompanied the storms.

Many folks will be cleaning up over the next several days / weeks.  For those who live in areas that allow burning of yard debris, Smokey has some safety tips later on in this blog. Those of you who do not want to nor are able to burn your debris there are other options.
Many localities have programs that allow you to pile the debris on the street edges so it can be picked up by waste management operations. Check with your localities for rules and regulations.

If you only have a small amount of debris and you have the room you might want to consider building a wildlife brush pile. This is NOT just a pile of brush that is created in hopes that it will be beneficial to wildlife. There are specifically built with wildlife protection in mind.

Few wildlife management practices can provide a more important part of wildlife habitat for the amount of effort as brush piles. In just a few minutes, a person may construct a place suitable for wildlife to escape from severe weather and predators, as well as a place to rest or raise their young. The main benefactor of brush piles is most often thought to be rabbits. While it is true that rabbits will readily use them, brush piles are also havens to box turtles, fence lizards, songbirds, small rodents and other mammals.
The term "brush pile" is commonly understood to be a pile of limbs arranged to permit entry of small wildlife to the exclusion of larger animals that may prey on them. Brush piles are not necessarily made of trees, limbs or brush. Scrap building lumber, wooden pallets, rocks, concrete blocks, plastic pipe, clay tiles or old culverts may also be used though some landowners prefer the "natural" appearance of brush or field stones.

Brush piles made of tree limbs or brush

Construct by placing 4 or 5 large (6" to 12" diameter) and fairly straight limbs or posts on the ground parallel to one another with about 12" spaces between each. Criss-cross similar sized and number of limbs on top. Smaller limbs should be added to the top. The final product should be 15 to 20 feet in diameter and 3 or 4 feet high.
Build this type in woodlands along woodland trails or the edges of fields.

Tip Of The Blog

If you must burn, do it safely!

·  Check with your local fire department to see if open burning is permitted or if you need a burn permit.
·  Prior to the burn, contact your local forestry office or rural fire department and tell them your plans—what time you plan to start burning, how long you plan to burn, and what (brush piles, leaves, etc.) you will burn.
·  Check the weather. Avoid burning on dry, windy days. Pick an overcast day when winds are calm and humidity is high. Try to burn before 10:00 a.m. or after 3:00 p.m. This is when winds are usually calmest and humidity is highest.
·  Keep brush piles small (about 5 feet by 5 feet), and burn them in open fields when snow is on the ground or in the late spring after the grass has greened up.
·  Avoid burning piles under overhanging tree limbs, utility lines or close to buildings.
·  Cover your debris pile with a waterproof tarp. After a rain, when the surrounding vegetation is wet, remove the plastic and you’ll be ready to burn. This helps reduce the chance of your fire spreading to surrounding vegetation.
·  Before you burn, gather rakes, wet burlap sacks and other firefighting tools. Have a source of water close by. This will help you take quick action should your fire start to get out of control. Call the fire department immediately should a fire escape.
·  Stay with your burn pile until it is completely extinguished. Drown ashes with water and stir them with a shovel or rake to make sure there are no hot embers left smoldering.
·  Check your fire the next day . . . just to be sure.

·  Debris will burn easier and more completely with less smoke if you wait till the debris has cured some. Using a lot of accelerant like gas or kerosene on “green fuels” just to try and get them to burn is not only DANGEROUS but inefficient. Using some dry leaves, old lumber, paper or cardboard to start your fire is much safer.

PLEASE remember what Smokey has taught us. ALWAYS BE CAREFUL WITH FIRE.

several of the photos of the storm damage as well as the one below were taken from local newspaper web pages this morning.

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