Free recycling program collects truckloads of leaves

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor



Free leaf disposal

Who: For Vancouver and Clark County residents.

When: Through Dec. 20. Hours vary; check

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. City Bark, 2419 N.E. Andresen Road360-253-8461.

Maximum: 4 cubic yards.

Requirement: A coupon, but they are available for the asking at the sites or on the website listed above.

BRUSH PRAIRIE — Brad Reitzenstein watched Sunday afternoon as his son and nephew toiled to dump a trailer-load of leaves at H&H Wood Recyclers.

"I'm delegating," he said, laughing as son Brady, 13, and nephew Blake Prigge, 12, used rakes for the job.

The trio took advantage of a deal: dump four yards of leaves for free. The program is paid for by the city of Vancouver and Clark County.

Brad and his assistants were bringing in leaves collected at grandma's. That's Maudrey Reitzenstein, who lives in the Northwest neighborhood. And if their red trailer looked vintage, it was. "My dad built it back in the '60s," Brad said.

H&H, 8401 N.E. 117th Ave., was hopping on Sunday.

"We've had 132 (customers) today," Terri Phares said at about 2:50 p.m. She was staffing the check-in gate.

"This weekend has been very, very busy," added Tauna Wishon, a supervisor who has worked at H&H for seven years. On Saturday, 179 customers came with coupon in hand. Those coupons come from the city and county, but just ask for one when you arrive and it's free.

Wishon said some people arrive expecting to pay and, "You give them a coupon and it just makes their day."

The program, which started Oct. 1, lasts until Dec. 20. Exact figures were not available, but at least 1467 customers have dropped off 3,798 cubic yards, said Elsie Deatherage, solid waste analyst for the city of Vancouver. At this time last year, the city and county had paid about $6,000 to support the program.

"It's a great program," said Vlad Vladimirov, 36, of the Rose Village neighborhood. He was unloading his Chevy pickup and said he's taken advantage of the program for the past five years.

The area at H&H was bare on Oct. 1, and on Sunday that pile looked to be 20 feet high, 100 feet long and 40 feet wide. Asked if it is fun to use the big Hyundai front loader to push those leaves around, operator Joshua Kays said, "It has its moments."

What happens to all those leaves?

"By late spring, we have a nice leaf compost that sells for $28 a cubic yard," supervisor Wishon said. "We actually take the temperature and we watch it. It really cooks."

While many did double duty — raking and getting the leaves into trailers and pickups and then dumping them — Chuck Graham of the Evergreen area had a smooth system.

His 10-by-5-foot Eagle trailer has a hydraulic lift. He lined the trailer with a huge plastic tarp, backed in, hit the trailer's "up" button, and then pulled forward. Boom — 4 cubic "stomped down" yards came out looking like a big loaf.

"It just slides out," Graham said, smiling.