COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP)
Officials in northern Idaho's Bonner County under orders to no longer dispose of scrap wood by burning it are searching for ways to get rid of the tree limbs, brush and discarded lumber that residents drop off. "We need to come up with a plan on how we're going to addre s s i t , " said Le s l i e Marshall, solid waste director for the county. One option, used by nearby Kootenai County, is to hire Cannon Hill Industries, based in Post Falls. The company grinds up wood debris and trucks it to Stone Container Corp. in Frenchtown, Mont. That company buys the wood mulch and burns it to produce electricity and produce steam at its paper mill. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, concerned about air pollution, last summer began enforcing a ban on open burning of woody debris. "There's so much development around here, a lot of guys clearing the land, all that debris is just burned," said Mark Boyle, a regional air quality manager for the department. "With everybody living so close anymore, they're just smoking people out." The ban ended the county's practice of burning all the accumulated wood debris each fall. "We've more or less been told by DEQ, 'You will not burn any longer,'" said Marshall, leaving the county to find other methods of getting rid of the wood. "I'm not sure how we'll pay for it." Jerry Kuisti, an operations manager with Cannon Hill Industries, said turning the wood to mulch rather than burying it in a landfill can extend the life of the landfill. "We're trying to show them what we can take and do with products," he told the Coeur d'Alene Press. "Instead of going to waste and being buried, we're making energy out of it." Roger Saterfiel, Kootenai County solid waste director, said that county takes in about 16,000 tons of scrap wood and tree limbs each year, and pays Cannon Hill $272,000 annually to take care of it. "That's a big number, but it's money well spent in terms of landfill space savings and some other things," Saterfiel said. "You can't compact brush and wood. It takes up a tremendous amount of landfill space."