Chipping away


The Park District maintenance crew clears dead trees and invasive species from Kelley Nature Preserve with the help of its new chipper.

Don’t let the noise scare you.

Yes, the sound of a wood chipper chewing up and spitting out logs up to 15 inches in diameter is VERY LOUD.

Yes, a 40-foot arc of chips and sawdust belching forth from the machine is messy.

And yes, there is a better-than-even chance one of the Park District staffers is going to make a Fargo reference any time somebody fires up the chipper.

But those are small prices to pay for the level of work this behemoth can do.

The Clermont County Park District purchased the chipper in November of 2018. While the maintenance department began using it right away, many other staffers had training on the machine in December.

“It’s a big, powerful machine, and it can be intimidating if you don’t know how to operate it,” said Tim Carr, Clermont County Park District Deputy Director. “We just wanted everyone to be on the same page and make sure safety comes first.”

So far in 2019, that also goes for the park properties where the chipper will get a workout.

“As good as our parks are, they can always be better and we’re making sure they will be,” Carr said. “When we remove dead trees and cut down invasive species like honeysuckle, we’re immediately improving the safety of the trails by getting rid of obstacles on the paths.

“We’re also improving visibility in each park and looking toward a future when the native plants are able to thrive again.”

All of this work is part of an ongoing long-term plan that started with the passage of a park levy in the fall of 2016.

“For example, at Kelley Nature Preserve we commissioned a land-use study last year,” Carr said. “One of the main recommendations was to do a major clearing of invasive species. Not only will that enable natives to thrive again, but also improve views to the river.

“We started on a small scale in the summer, but really didn’t have anywhere to go with the honeysuckle once it was cut. The addition of the chipper gives us a way to dispose of everything we cut.”

The chipper can handle logs up to 15 inches in diameter.