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Boy Scouts to recycle Christmas trees on Saturday

With the presents underneath them gone, Ashland Christmas trees can become one last gift this week — to the environment.

Now that the holiday season's over, Ashland Boy Scout Troop 112 is helping locals recycle their dried-out Christmas trees into mulch for the city's parks.

The teenage boys will pick up trees left at street curbs outside homes in Ashland beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Locals are invited to donate any amount to the troop for the recycling, but should not attach money or checks to the trees, said Bob Ellis, scoutmaster of Troop 112. Instead, scouts will knock on doors of houses where trees are left outside to ask for donations and leave donation envelopes in mailboxes if residents don't answer their doors, he said.

"Whatever people want to give, they can place it in the envelopes," Ellis said. "If they don't have any money, that's fine and we still pick up the trees."

The tree recycling is the troop's primary fundraiser each year, Ellis said. Donations usually bring in between $4,000 and $5,000, which goes to pay for summer camps and scout events for the two dozen boys in the troop.

Troop 112 started recycling trees about 25 years ago in Ashland, Ellis said.

"We were the first troop in the U.S. that started doing this and now it's a program that other communities do too. When we started doing this, all the trees were ending up at the landfill. So we were being green even before green was the norm."

The boys and some adult volunteers, including Ashland Lions Club members, take the trees to Hunter Park, where they shred the evergreens using a machine that the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department loans them for the day.

After grinding trees for several hours, the scouts bag up the mulch and wood chips and give it to the Parks Department, which spreads it throughout Ashland's city parks.

"We always get a very positive response because everybody's really happy to see the trees go to a good source," Ellis said.

Those who forget or aren't able to get their Christmas trees to their curbs by 9 a.m. Saturday can call Ellis at 482-4104 to schedule another pick-up time.

Staff writer Hannah Guzik can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.