If a calm and beautiful day in Pierre means there is generally only a five mile-per-hour wind, the smoke dancing on the hills in the gentle breeze past the east edge of town might go unnoticed.
City of Pierre Solid Waste Department began a 150 by 200-foot tree waste burn in their material recovery site area behind the women’s prison on Landfill Road, Nov. 7, at around 9:30 a.m., according to Valerie Keller, solid waste department manager.
The pile is wood; piles of tree branches, stumps and logs. There are no processed or man-made items in the burn pile. Every few hours, a tractor will come and push the pile in from the outside.
“It’s a normal operation tree burn,” Keller said. “We only do it when we have more moisture in the air. Not when we have wind and it’s dryer out.”
The number of burns a year directly relates to how much material, after it is sorted, is accumulated. The amount of material makes a difference in the size, though sometimes the conditions are too good, and looking ahead, experience calls for a burn.
The accelerant used to ignite the pile is diesel. If regular gasoline is used, there is a larger risk of blow-back because gasoline tends to have more vapor fumes which may sit heavier in the foliage. The fumes are the flammable parts.
The city of Pierre owns and operates the facility where debris is dropped off. It also owns the material recovery area, where the city also make its compost piles; they sell the compost every year to farmers, gardeners and others in the area.