J.R. Ford’s company removes trees and brush from key areas around subdivisions, power lines and water utility infrastructure in a bid to better protect people from wildfire. It’s work that’s vitally important here in the arid West, where mountains have become overgrown with quick-to-burn trees such as ponderosa pine.
But many of the trees that Ford’s Forest Health Company removes are too thin to turn into conventional lumber products, such as boards and planks. So he chips them. And now, six years into his 10-year tree thinning contract with the Forest Service, he has far more chips than he can sell.