Municipal leaf roundups begin in earnest in November. Many of the leaves will become compost that is sold by Rogue Disposal and Recycling. Others will be composted by the cities or organizations that collect them.
"They go directly into the chopper. We blend it with the green waste that comes in so that you get the carbon from the leaves," said Denise Wolgamott, recycling coordinator for Rogue Disposal. "You want to have that balance."
Over an 18- to 24-month period, the mix is turned several times and achieves a temperature high enough to kill pathogens. The finished product, Oakleaf Compost, then is tested and certified as organic by the Organic Materials Review Institute. A 1.5-cubic-foot bag sells for $3.99.
Rogue Disposal picked up 1,035 tons of leaves from Medford last year. Another 412 tons of leaves were processed. The bulk of those came from Ashland Sanitary and Recycling, Wolgamott said.
Medford has a contract with Rogue Disposal to collect bagged leaves. The city pays the company based on weight, with a cap of $125,000, said Public Works Director Corey Crebbin. The effort keeps leaves out of storm drains and allows Public Works crews to concentrate on other projects.
Medford leaf pickup will begin Monday in the north zone, which is north of West Main and East Main streets, Hillcrest Road and Cherry Lane.
Residents need to bag the leaves and leave them in the public right of way by Monday morning of each pickup week. Only leaves are accepted, and bags should not weigh more than 40 pounds.
North zone collection weeks are Nov. 3-7, Nov. 24-28 and Dec. 15-19. South zone pickup is Nov. 10-14, Dec. 1-5 and Dec. 22-26. Residents can get 10 free plastic bags or purchase 30 bags for $1 at Rogue Disposal's transfer station, 8001 Table Rock Road, White City.
Last year, residents within the Ashland and Talent urban growth boundaries dropped off 99,000 pounds of leaves during two days of collection at the Ashland Sanitary Recycling Center on Water Street. That marked an increase of 39,000 pounds over 2007.
This year's drop-off dates are Nov. 4 and Nov. 18 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. No other recyclables will be accepted on those dates. Residents must dump the leaves from their bags. Leaves also can be taken to the Valley View Transfer Station, where they can be recycled for $7 per cubic yard.
Ashland and Talent residents who can't make it to the center or the transfer station can purchase a package of five large paper bags for $13.50. They can be filled with leaves for pickup during green debris recycling dates in November and December. The bags are tossed into compost piles where they decompose. Each bag holds up to 35 pounds of leaves.
"There are some people that don't have vehicles or have physical limitations and can't load it up," said Risa Buck, waste reduction educator for Ashland Sanitary and Recycling. "We wanted to add an additional option to help keep those materials out of the street and out of the landfill."
The program started last year when 94 packages were sold. This year, 83 packages already have been sold, boosted by a half-price special for Ashlanders that was subsidized by the city earlier in October.
Pickup dates are Nov. 1, Nov. 9-15, Nov. 23-29, Dec. 7-13 and Dec. 21-27. The bags should be placed curbside the same day as regular garbage pickup. They are available at the Ashland Sanitary office, 170 Oak St.
Medford, Ashland and other cities only will take leaves and will not accept other yard debris or tree trimmings.
Central Point Public Works crews will pick up bagged leaves on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 1 and Dec. 2. Bags should not exceed 35 pounds. Collection usually generates between 400 and 450 cubic yards of leaves that are composted and used by the city.
"We use the county inmates to open up the bags, so that helps with the labor issue," said Rick Bartlett, field operations manager.
Eagle Point Public Works will pick up bagged leaves between Nov. 17 and Dec. 19. There's a 40-pound weight limit and bags should be placed curbside. Those wanting bagged leaves for mulch can call Public Works at 826-4212, ext. 136.
Rogue River has leaf pickup Oct. 31 through Feb. 1. Leaves can be bagged or piled, but piles must be within reach of a six-foot-long vacuum hose and not in gutters or the street. Bags can be placed in driveways or front yards. After placing leaves, residents should call City Hall at 582-4401.
Talent's Great Green Garden community garden project will accept leaves again this year behind the elementary school at South Second and West Wagner streets beginning Nov. 8.
"We just got done spreading the remaining leaves that we had from last year for the new garden area," said organizer Sharon Anderson.
The site is open from 3-7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Dumpers should remove their bags. Collection runs through December.
Phoenix Public Works Department will pick up bagged leaves Sunday, Nov. 23. Bags should be left by the side of the street and are limited to 30 pounds.
Jackson County doesn't offer leaf pickup, but does sponsor a leaf exchange to prevent burning that adds to particulates in the atmosphere. Jackson County Air Quality will collect phone numbers of those who have leaves and those who want to use them for composting. The number is 774-8207.
County residents and those who don't use pickup services can take leaves to the Table Rock transfer station where they will be charged $7 per cubic yard.
Tony Boom is a writer living in Ashland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.