When you cut down about 60 trees and assorted bushes with trunks that are up to 12 inches thick you can count on the fact you are going to have a lot of “slash” (branches, limbs and other debris) to dispose of. This is certainly something that Jeri Bowles and about a dozen Pinyon area residents can confirm after their participation in a major property abatement project at the end of May, 2003.
“I think we filled an area about an acre in size between 6-feet to 8-feet high,” said Bowles. A member of the Pinyon Chapter of the Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council, Bowles said the slash was piled up on the parking lot of the Elks’ Lodge by Council members (led by Chapter President Ray Barmore) and residents of the area.
Capt. Bill Marshall of the California Department of Forestry / Riverside County Fire Department at Pinyon Station No. 30 paid tribute to the residents for the amount of debris they collected. He said it took a crew of about 15 men (including CDF hand crews and staff from the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service) almost four days during the first week of June using two chippers to turn the piles of slash into chips which will be used for ground cover around homes in the area. “Thanks to the efforts and fire safe thinking of all involved, this defensible space project has been a huge success for the Pinyon Pines communities by reducing over five tons worth of hazardous flammable vegetation around homes,” Marshall said.
Bowles said the Council members contributed 347 hours of volunteer time to help the owners of about eight properties do the abatement work over a two-week period. This total does not include another 55 hours of help they received from three members of the Pine Cove Chapter of the Council who also contributed their efforts and some equipment to the project.
Bowles said Pinyon Chapter volunteers put in an average of about 30 hours per person on the project. She said those taking part used their own chainsaws and a variety of other equipment including a commercial dump truck loaned to them by an area resident, a flat bed truck and a front end loader which compressed the slash into the vehicles.
Most of the dead trees removed in the project were Pinyon Pines which grow to 40 feet in height and to 50 inches in circumference. “We also removed some Yucca trees and some sugar bushes but it’s almost a mistake to call them ‘bushes’ since some of them can have 12-inch trunks,” Bowles said.
She noted that there are about 71 homes on about 202 properties in the area and that the Council members and residents are planning to do more big-scale abatement projects in the future. “We are looking at some other sites to use to pile up the slash, however,” she said with a chuckle, “since I’m not sure we can tie up the Elks’ Lodge property again like we did this time.”