No-cost leaf disposal program proves popular

Clark County-Vancouver effort rakes in the praise

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor



Free leaf disposal

Who: For Vancouver and Clark County residents.

When: Through Dec. 20.

Where: H&H Wood Recyclers, 8401 N.E. 117th Ave., (360-892-2805); McFarlane’s Bark, 8806 N.E. 117th Ave. (360-892-6125); West Van Materials Recovery Center, 6601 N.W. Old River Road (360-737-1727).

Requirement: A coupon, but they are available by asking at the sites.

Maximum: Five yards.

Peter Schultz of Vancouver backed his 1995 Ford F-250 into a giant pile of leaves and added to its girth on Sunday afternoon.

And it did not cost him a dime.

"I like it, and I use it every year," Schultz said of the free leaf disposal program run by the city of Vancouver and Clark County.

This was his second load in the past two weeks at H&H Wood Recyclers, 8401 N.E. 117th Ave.

"My son (Matthew) rakes up a load for my next-door neighbor," Schultz said.

Schultz added that he thinks the leaf program is good for residents and good for the Earth.

"Knowing that they're going to be used for compost … I think that's a really good thing," Schultz said. "I know years ago people used to burn their leaves. This is a much better deal."

The deal brought 1,203 cubic yards of leaves in October alone, said Elsie Deatherage, solid waste analyst for the city of Vancouver. She said the city and county paid $5,956 for the program through October. November figures are not yet available.

The main pile of leaves at H&H is about 50 yards long, 20 feet high and 40 yards deep, Debbie Graham said. She ought to know, as she works a Hyundai front-loader pushing new leaves into the pile.

"It gets bigger daily," she said.

Terri Phares, who works the cash booth at H&H, was asked if she wouldn't like to climb to the top of that pile.

"I'd like to, but they don't let us," she said laughing.

Phares said free-leaf customers appreciate the program.

"They're thrilled," she said. "They thank us tremendously."

Jean Kent said Sunday was her sixth trip to H&H this autumn.

She is chair of the Cascade Highlands Neighborhood Association and volunteers to bring in neighbors' leaves.

"Oh, it's fabulous to be able to dump your leaves for free," Kent said.

She said there are plenty of trees on 160th Avenue and on McGillivray Boulevard.

"I like to help people," Kent said. She is a band teacher for Evergreen Public Schools and plays flute in the Southwest Washington Wind Symphony.

She pointed to the secondary pile at H&H and said, "That one is steaming, making compost."

You can buy that compost for your garden at H&H for $28 a yard. And who knows, maybe your leaves will enrich someone's garden next spring.