Kelley Atherton, The Triplicate

The Hambro Group recently received accolades for its work to keep the air clean in Humboldt County.

Planet Green, an environmental group in Humboldt, publically recognized the Crescent City-based company's recent upgrades to its particleboard plant in Arcata.

Rather than smoke pouring out its smokestacks, Humboldt Flakeboard Panels emits almost pure steam into the atmosphere. This is due to a $5 million biofilter that "scrubs" the plant's air emissions clean.

HFP is about three times the size of the Hambro Forest Products plant here in Crescent City.

Hambro President Dwayne Reichlin said that the company has been environmentally friendly since its beginnings in 1965.

"We started with that in mind," he said. "It's a responsibility to ourselves, the industry and the people who walk on our floors."

The forest products facilities in Crescent City, Arcata and Lenoir, N.C., take wood waste from sawmills and turn it into particleboard and other wood products for manufactured homes.

"Everyone wants green products," Reichlin said about making products that are environmentally-sound.

California has some of the most stringent air emissions laws, he added, and the biofilter and $750,000 in upgrades to the Crescent City facilities are keeping Hambro in step with those new guidelines. But, the company strives to stay "ahead of the curve," Reichlin said.

"We were already going in that direction," Reichlin said.

Randy Scott, the general manager for HFP in Arcata, is a certified smoke reader and can make sure if the plant's air emissions are in compliance.

However, it's been a long road cleaning up HFP and getting it up to the same standards as the Crescent City facilities, plus the state and federal government.

When Hambro bought the Arcata plant in 2002 it had a "horrible reputation" with environmentalists, Reichlin said. Since then, the company has been trying to turn that image around.

"Naturally, it's a good feeling." Reichlin said about receiving recognition from an environmental group. "But, we've always been responsible from that standpoint."