Thursday, September 24, 2009

Help me with the ecology case

The Washington State Department of Ecology has charged me with spreading wood chips, stating that my use of wood chips as mulch
on my farm is illegal.

My court case is March 16th, but between now and then I've got the opportunity to ask questions and depose Paul Anderson, the ecology biologist who cited me and apparently believes that mulching is wrong and evil.

So if there's any question that you can think of that pertains to ecologies viewpoint on farmland, I'd like to include it so that it can be answered by Mr. Anderson as sworn testimony.

This is an opportunity to ask any question you'd like to to an enforcement officer of the washington state department of ecology. I'll post the answers as I recieve them.

Here's some of the questions I'm considering:

What detectable pollutants do wood chips emit?

The washington department of ecology encourages the use of wood chips and hog fuel as animal bedding. Why is that use allowed and encouraged, but this use as mulch cited and potentially fined?

Snohomish county uses wood chips for paths and walkways through all of the wildlife areas that they manage, in up to 7' depths. Why is ecology not enforcing this statute in that case?

The army corps of engineers allows the use of wood chips and other soil amendments and mulches as exempt from any permit. Why does ecology want to ban these uses here?

Have you ever cited anyone else for the use of wood chips?

I'm open to suggestions. There is no limit to the questions I can submit, provided they are pertinent to this case. You can post them here, or email them to me at


Rich said...

What is the technical definition of 'wood chip'? Is sawdust classified as 'wood chip mulch'? Are 2-3" chunks of wood classified as 'wood chip mulch'?

Dave said...

You may already have this covered but, are they doing anything in regard to stopping the use of mulch in the creation of wetland mitigation areas. A really good example that is very close to you is the corner of Hewitt and Hwy 9. They have created a wetland parklike area to capture runoff and it is totally covered with mulch.

Anonymous said...

Greg Rabourn of King County's Watershed Stewardship group is always extolling the use of wood chips on KUOW's Weekday gardening panel. Maybe he could help you get the answers to your questions and/or provide scientific testimony to help you make your case? I'm appalled to hear that Snohomish County is doing this and wish you all the best as you fight against idiocy.

Anonymous said...

You might want to try contacting the Washington Policy Center to see if someone there can help you:

Helping you farm is in keeping with their mission statement:

Anonymous said...

Anonymous again -- I think they are going after you for the runoff. If you look here, near the bottom, you'll see they want to stop the runoff of organic material (wood bits):

Supposedly the organic matter gets eaten by bacteria and ruins the water.

If that's their understanding, I think you are screwed. You might as well have a manure lagoon that overflows when it rains, spilling nutrient-rich material into the water.

damae said...

Based on what laws? When were they passed and by who? How is what you're doing different from what happens naturally. Logs fall, rot and when the floods come get picked up by the water. Floods happen. Nature recycles everything, why can't we help the system out? If you weren't farming on that land, trees would have been growing there and some of them would be rotting and on and on. I doubt that you are adding any additional organic matter that would not have been added if you were not there at all.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Anonymous "I think they are going after you for the runoff." Not using wood chips makes no sense in the context of nutrient runoff. Wood chips are high in carbon and tend to sequester nitrogen compounds and presumably other over-abundant nutrients that might run off. I would think that using wood chips is a great idea.