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Debris and Fuel Removal 

Below are the most common ways to deal with fuel left from thinning. 

wood chipping leavenworth
When chipping it is important to understand that although the chips are less readily available to burn, they do not decompose quickly and are slow to release their nutrients. Chips will foster growth of some fungi. It is recommended to scatter chips no thicker than 4" and to keep them 4' away from standing tree trunks.


  • No smoke

  • Faster and less risk than burning



  • Requires some reasonable access to the area of cutting by the machine.

  • Potential damage to soil and trees. Machines can risk damage to soil and desired trees. Machines must remain 25'-50' from a watercourse within a Riparian Area, so are not as practical in this scenario.


burning pile leavenworth wa

Burning the fuel presents unique benefits. 



  • Thorough elimination of fire fuel.

  • If a moderate fire footprint is created, it can enrich the soil with nutrients including Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus.

  • Charcoal is an excellent "sponge" for water and nutrients.


  • Smoke-If your fuel (wood etc) is wet and/or green, it will create a lot of smoke due to incomplete combustion.

  • Risk if not done in a thoughtful way that takes weather (current and near future), topography and landscape, and fuel characteristics into consideration.

forest wood debris leavenworth
Lop and Scatter


  • Flexible in where it can be done; on slopes and within areas machines cannot reach such as Riparian areas. 

  • Less expensive since the debris is being cut into small pieces and scattered on the forest floor there is less time and cost associated with woody debris removal. 

  • Encourages wildlife; building scattered piles with the woody debris provides habitat for many small creatures.


  • Not a "clean look" on the forest floor

  • Fuel remains on the forest floor, though its risk is much less because it's decaying, and less combustible. 

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