Sunday, April 21, 2024

Farewell, Christmas tree

Staff Writer | December 29, 2020 1:00 AM

Maybe more people are making the switch to artificial or didn't bother to decorate, but the pile of Christmas trees at the Ramsey Transfer Station Monday afternoon wasn't as tall as in past years.

The Kootenai County hazardous waste collection facility on Ramsey Road is one of two transfer stations in the county that allow residents to rid their homes of chemicals, refrigerators, cardboard, and — of course — Christmas trees and other wood products.

There were lines of cars in all directions on Monday, which is expected after the holidays, said Doug Goodwin, operations manager.

"At the Ramsey site, customer wise, we've been doing 500 to 700 people a day for the last couple weeks," Goodwin said. "This weekend, we had over 1,100 on Saturday and 1,066 on Sunday."

Mostly after Christmas, bins are filled with wrapping paper, boxes and a heaping mound of pine trees in the back. Due to holiday closures, part of customers' mass chunks, Goodwin said, will occur again this week for New Year's Day on Friday.

The Ramsey facility, along with the Prairie Transfer Station and the Athol and Chilco sites, will be collecting Christmas trees for recycling. All Kootenai County Rural Collection Sites will have a location for the festive firs near the cardboard bins until the end of January or the beginning of February.

Athol, Chilco, Rathdrum, Mica Flats, Sun Up Bay, Worley, and the Harrison Junction sites are accepting cardboard recycling. Other materials — besides Christmas trees — are prohibited.

Once the trees are gathered, Cannon Hill Industries Inc., a tree service contractor from Post Falls, will grind up the recyclables for "hog fuel," Goodwin said. Made through unprocessed waste, like bark and organic materials, hog fuel uses burned wood chips to create power for boilers and dryers at industrial forest facilities.

Goodwin said the pile was smaller than usual, but he expects it to grow over the next week or two.

"Twenty or 25 years ago, we would have a pile of this size of just Christmas trees, not mixed wood," he said. "Over the years, people have been going more toward artificial trees, but it is still early. It's only the 28th, so we'll get a bunch more."

It'll be a couple of weeks before Cannon Hill Industries chips up the trees, so Kootenai County residents still have time to turn in their pines.