Case Study

Urban Wood Reuse

Boulder County, CO: Managing fire risk with an urban sort yard


Boulder County Community Forestry Sort Yard – Meeker Park / Allenspark

To mitigate fire risk, citizens on the urban/wildland interface clear vegetation around their homes and create defensible space. But once you clear all the trees and shrubs, what do you do with them?

Boulder County, CO

Temperate climate that receives many sunny or mostly sunny days. Commonly claimed to be semi-arid,


79.3% white, 0.8% black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 4.0% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, 0.2% from some other race, and 2.2% from two or more races. 13.3% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of
any race

Boulder County operates two community forestry sort yards. Residents can drop off logs, slash and timber for free at either of these facilities.
As clearing vegetation may encourage the establishment of pioneer invasive species, the sort yards also accept weeds. However, they must arrive in a sealed paper yard bag. Such weeds will subsequently be composted.

Materials are accepted free of charge as they can provide a valuable fuel source to the agency. Boulder County Parks and Open Space Department Headquarters and Shop Campus has a 3.3 MMBtu/hour woodchip boiler that supplies heat for the six buildings on the department’s central office and shop campus. Accepting the wood waste and determining which items are suitable for chipping, rather than accepting chips, ensures they avoid contaminants like dirt and rocks. Though more expensive than a natural gas fuel system, the lower fuel costs are expected to repay the difference in 7-10 years and then to begin to realize a savings.

Not all materials that come in to the sort yards are suitable for use as fuel. Unsuitable materials are either chipped for mulch or composted.

In the absence of market opportunities for these materials, the County provides places where they can be utilized. These community forestry sort yards help residents address fire danger while providing feedstocks for renewable energy. Turning potential wildfire fuel into biomass fuel turns a liability into an asset for Boulder County.

Community Forestry Sort YardNederland Area


Community Forestry Sort Yards


Boulder County Parks and Open Space Department


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