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Most trees were sent to Biomass and lumber company

On Hanley Road, between the Extension Service and Hanley Farm, there were many piles of trees that had been bulldozed into huge, separate mounds (at least 10 or more).

Many weeks later they were burned one by one. I wondered why they were not taken to Biomass One in White City and why the pollution caused by burning was allowed to happen? It didn't seem very healthy for the air or the community.

— Kathy E., Jacksonville

You're not the first person to wonder about the piles at Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, Kathy.

"It's ours and we did do it," said Phil Vanbuskirk, staff chairman at the extension service. He said some of the hybrid poplars you saw were sent to Biomass, and another portion went to a lumber company. The remaining material, which mostly included stumps and limbs, was burned.

"If Biomass would have taken them, that would have been our preference," he said. However, in late May there was a glut of material and it was difficult to get rid of the last bits and pieces. There weren't enough stumps to justify bringing out a machine to grind them into chips, he said.

Vanbuskirk said the remaining material was burned on a legal burn day. He also said more stumps likely will be burned at a later time.

The trees were planted about 15 years ago for a research project that was attempting to evaluate the poplars for use as fiber, biomass and lumber. In many countries, such trees are used as windbreaks. The researcher who was involved in the project left the extension service and then the trees were attacked by an insect that bored into them, which required them to be removed.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com.