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trees - minus trimming

As the holiday season recedes, we slowly take down the decorations, carefully packing them away for next year. Unless you have made the switch to an artificial tree (and about 70 percent of Americans have) or you do without Tannenbaum, you'll need to dispose of your tree properly. Fortunately, that's a lot easier than picking out a tree.

Local Boy Scouts and Medford Lions Club members provide most of the valley with the opportunity to recycle trees, says Andy Thripp, district director for the Crater Lake Boy Scout Council. "This is one of those programs we do every year," he says. "It's a fundraiser for the troops, but it's mostly a community service."

Most troops will drop off flyers in the areas they plan to retrieve trees, says Thripp. Look for a flyer with a number to call to arrange for pickup. They will also have an envelope attached or include an address for participants to send donations. Some troops will come to the door and tell you they're picking up the tree, he says. The money collected is generally used to help scouts cover the cost of summer camp, because part of the scouting ideal is to learn independence, Thripp explains.

"Not everybody gives a donation," he says. "That's alright. The troops will still pick up the tree."

The Boy Scouts work in concert with BioMass One in White City, which accepts their trees for its wood waste program. BioMass will take one Christmas tree - free of ornaments - from you at no charge, says Gordon Draper, vice-president. "But if you bring it in with a bunch of other wood waste, expect to pay," he says.

Customers of Rogue Disposal and Recycling can call on their company to pick up trees (779-4161), says recycling coordinator Denise Wolgamott. "Because other groups pick up trees we ask our customers to call ahead to schedule and authorize the extra charge." The company charges $3 per 3 foot section of tree, making disposal cost for the average tree $6.

"If our customers have curbside yard debris recycling they can cut the tree up and put it in their green bin," she says. Flocked trees are not accepted for recycling and all tinsel and decorations must be removed.

"We don't want anything contaminating our compost," Wolgamott says. "The compost meets really high standards" and is tested frequently by the U.S. Compost Council.

Ashland Sanitary and Recycling encourages using the Boy Scouts, or you can set trees out with your regular trash pickup or with the green waste pickup (remember, no icicles), says Russ Chapman, co-owner. "We don't take them until the Boy Scouts have done their pickup."

And what happens to the trees? They've got a more holistic future if they are not set out with the trash, destined for the landfill. In Ashland, trees are chipped and used to bark the paths of city parks. Biomass One uses trees for compost material or electricity. And every three or four years the BLM calls on the Boy Scouts to deliver trees to local lakes. With water levels at traditional lows, the scouts work to anchor the trees to the lake bottom. The stabilized trees create fish habitat as the lake rises.

A fitting end for a celebrated tree.

trees — minus trimming