What to do with hurricane mulch

View The Original Article Here

Florence left county with mountains of debris

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Hurricane Florence left a mess of downed trees, limbs and sticks.

In the weeks since the storm, crews hired by the city and county have been collecting material and bringing it to several sites to grind it into mulch, all of which is being staged at the county landfill on U.S. 421, said Joe Suleyman, director of environmental management for New Hanover County.

The county and city of Wilmington combined likely will surpass 2 million cubic yards of vegetative debris collected from the storm’s wrath as it passed over the Wilmington region in mid-September, Suleyman said. Now, officials are laying out plans for what to do with all of that mulch.

For one thing, it can’t really be used in a garden — and not just because the county doesn’t want to be in the business of competing with hardware or garden stores, Suleyman said.

“Aesthetically, it’s not a good finished product. There are pieces as big as your forearm,” he said. “The purpose of grinding it isn’t to create attractive mulch for your garden bed. It’s to make the transport of it easier.”

So the county has other, less visible, plans for the mulch, which will add up to about 500,000 cubic yards of ground material, he said. To put that in perspective, Suleyman once calculated that much material, stacked neatly onto a 100-yard-long football field, would be roughly 275 feet high.

Some of it will be used as part of the county’s composting program. A lot will be used to line the exterior of the county’s newest, 5-acre landfill cell to provide erosion control.

Finally, Suleyman said, the mulch will be used at the landfill to line paths and roads for trucks throughout the property, most of which are covered with sand that makes it difficult for trucks to traverse.

Reporter Tim Buckland can be reached at 910-343-2217 or Tim.Buckland@StarNewsOnline.com.