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Village of Sanford turns to wood grinder to dispose of flood debris

Wood Hog wood grinder in Sanford(As part of GIS Day in Michigan, MI Environment today features EGLE's latest article created with GIS Story Maps.)

Massive flooding after the Edenville and Sanford dams failed resulted in debris piles made up of wood and other materials in downstream communities.

To get rid of the debris, one community — the Village of Sanford — explored the possibility of burning it. Before EGLE staff were able to determine whether burning the piles would be legal under existing rules, they examined the debris piles and saw that they contained more than just wood. The piles also contained trash. Burning of most trash is illegal in Michigan.

But burning only wood would also present a problem.

"We were concerned about the amount of potential pollutants entering the environment if the burning did occur," said Chris Hare, EGLE's Bay City Air Quality Division District Supervisor.

The story map explains the decision-making process step-by-step, using visual aids and detailing the factors and discussions that led to an eventual win-win solution.

EGLE staff eventually determined any burning of these piles would be illegal under the Natural Resources Environmental Protection Act (NREPA), 1994 PA 451, as amended; R 336.1310 - Open Burning. (Rule 310). Staff from the EGLE's Bay City District Office determined there were better, more environmentally and public health friendly options available. They suggested that the community consider wood grinders to dispose of the wood piles.

In the end, both Sanford and EGLE met their goals: removal of debris piles while preventing pollution. The success of this project is a testament to relationships and how EGLE values working with communities and industry to move toward common goals.

If you want more information or have questions about this story, please feel free to contact Chris Hare at

Check out EGLE's latest story map on this project for more information and photos.

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