Autumn leaves make great pictures and song titles, but once they fall, they're a nuisance to city streets and storm drains.

Autumn leaves make great pictures and song titles, but once they fall, they're a nuisance to city streets and storm drains.

That's why many local jurisdictions and disposal companies offer leaf pickup and recycling for free or at low cost.

In Ashland and Talent, residents can buy five large paper leaf bags for $12.50 from Ashland Sanitary and Recycling, which services both cities. The company will pick up filled bags left curbside during "green debris" weeks in November and December.

The new program benefits residents who cannot easily avail themselves of other recycling opportunities, said Risa Buck, company waste reduction educator. It also keeps leaves from plugging the storm drain system and contributing to landfills, Buck noted.

"The city of Ashland inspired it," said Buck. "(Leaf cleanup) has been an ongoing challenge. People just blow their leaves and set them in the street."

Leaf recycling at the Valley View Transfer Station or the free leaf days at the Water Street recycling center are not options for people without transportation, said Buck. Handling large bags of leaves may be difficult for some citizens, she added.

Because the bags are paper they can be added to other leaves that will be ground up and left to decompose, said Buck. That's not an option with plastic bags.

The leaf bags can be used only by residents within the two towns' urban growth boundaries. The bags can be purchased between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Ashland Sanitary office, 170 Oak St.

Green debris pickup dates include Nov. 1-2, Nov. 12-16, Nov. 26-30, Dec. 10-14 and Dec. 24-28 and coincide with regular trash pickup dates. There is a 35-pound limit and bags must be placed at the curb. Bags that aren't used this year will be valid for pickup next year.

Free leaf days at the recycling center are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 6 and 20. All leaves must be dumped into bins. Other recyclable materials will not be accepted on those days. Last year 60,000 pounds of leaves were recycled during two days at the center.

Leaves also can be taken to the Valley View Road transfer station, which is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. There is a charge of $7 per cubic yard to dump the leaves and other biomass, which must be removed from plastic bags.

Talent residents have another new option. The elementary school and Talent Garden Club are collecting leaves at the school. The leaves will be composted and used to improve the soil in a joint project that provides gardening spaces for students and members of the public on school grounds.

"We have more property we really haven't worked yet," said Sharon Anderson, Garden Club president. "It was a parking lot, but it's going to be turned into a garden."

Leaves may be dropped off behind the school in a designated area marked by flags. Vehicles should enter through the open gate near the corner of South Second Street and West Wagner Creek Road. Drop-off times are 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Other cities that offer leaf pickup include:

Medford

Rogue Disposal and Recycling Inc. provides pickup for bagged leaves that are left curbside. Pickup is on alternating weeks in the north and south zones that are divided by West Main Street, East Main Street, Hillcrest Road and Cherry Lane.

An unlimited number of bags will be collected, but they should not exceed 40 pounds each. The bags must be placed curbside by 6:30 a.m. Mondays of pickup weeks. Tree branches, grass and yard clippings are not accepted. Residents can receive 10 free plastic bags for leaves at City Hall.

North zone pickup dates are Nov. 5-9, Nov. 26-30 and Dec. 17-21. South zone pickup will occur Nov. 12-16, Dec. 3-7 and Dec. 24-28.

Rogue Disposal began the pickup in 1998 after the city discontinued a program that allowed residents to pile unbagged leaves curbside for cleanup by public works crews.

Central Point

Public works crews will collect bagged leaves Nov. 26-27, the Monday and Tuesday following Thanksgiving.

"People can go out and work off all that turkey," said Karen Roeber, public works administrative assistant.

Residents can place as many bags as they wish curbside, but the bags may not contain yard debris and are limited to 35 pounds. Last year the program collected 450 cubic yards of leaves.

Phoenix

Public works crews and Lions Club members will pick up bagged leaves on Dec. 2. The bags must be placed at the curb and cannot exceed 40 pounds. Public Works Director Bob Lewis said the city may look at using biodegradable bags and charging a fee next year.

Eagle Point

Public works crews will collect bagged leaves (40 pounds maximum per bag) beginning around Nov. 15 and running until Christmas. Crews pick up the bags as they are placed curbside. Area organic farmers take many of the leaves for soil amendment, said Gary Shipley, public works supervisor.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboom8929@charter.net.