Gap Fire Hydromulch Contained Trash

Despite the recent rash of wet weather, the Gap and Tea Fire-burned areas in the foothills above Goleta, Santa Barbara, and Montecito have remained, as of press time, relatively solid. Unfortunately, the hydromulch-a wet mixture of recycled paper, wood, water, and a binding agent applied by airplanes and helicopters to the 2,000 acres of Gap Fire burn area to prevent erosion-contained recycled plastic, bits of rubber, candy bar wrappers, and wax-coated paper. According to Environmental Defense Center (EDC) representatives, the mulch has also resulted in this garbage content turning up in adjacent creeks. Acting on tips, EDC staffers examined a five-square-foot section of affected creek and found 35 pieces of plastic, rubber, and foil in just 15 minutes. In should be noted, however, that Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, which tests creek water downstream from the burn zone, has so far found no signs of debris. For their parts, the County of Santa Barbara and the Los Padres Forest Service, the two primary agencies responsible for the mulching project, have acknowledged the presence of impurities-though in lesser amounts than the EDC claims-and have gone on the record to say it won’t happen again.

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