Saturday, April 1, 2023
April 1, 2023

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Vancouver-area Scouts recycle Christmas trees

BSA troops have been collecting trees from residents for more than two decades

By , Columbian staff reporter
3 Photos
Jack O'Claire, right, and Jordan Mastrud, left, of Scouts BSA Troop 370, stack trees in a dumpster during the annual Scouts BSA Christmas tree recycling.
Jack O'Claire, right, and Jordan Mastrud, left, of Scouts BSA Troop 370, stack trees in a dumpster during the annual Scouts BSA Christmas tree recycling. (Nika bartoo-smith/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Dozens of Scouts BSA troop members and their families gathered in the Thomas Jefferson Middle School parking lot Saturday, prepared for a long day of picking up old Christmas trees for recycling.

“It’s kinda fun,” said Isaiah Ahn, 12, as he and Paola Gomez Almazan, 11, helped organize trees for recycling.

In the lot, Troops 479 and 5479 were joined by Troop 370, helping load dumpsters full of trees collected from each troops respective zone.

Last year, the troops at this spot filled eight and a half dumpsters provided by Waste Connections of Washington. By noon Saturday, they seemed to be on their way to filling nine or more dumpsters.

For well over two decades, Troop 479 has been collecting Christmas trees for recycling. The troop started the program in the northeastern section of Vancouver, according to Brent Zaemann, Christmas tree recycling coordinator for the past five years.

“This is mainly how we fund our troop, so it’s a really big deal for us,” said Parker Zaemann, 16, Brent Zaemann’s son.

In the beginning of December, troop members spent time volunteering by going around to houses in their designated zones, dropping flyers at each. For Troops 479 and 5479, that zone covers the Felida neighborhood, Lake Shore and part of Salmon Creek. The fliers instructed residents to leave their old Christmas trees on the curb for pickup.

The service is provided for free, though the troops do accept donations to fund scouting adventures all year long.

“We raise a lot of funds for our troops doing this, but it’s not expected,” Brent Zaemann said. “You don’t have to donate to get the tree recycled.”

From 8 a.m. well into Saturday afternoon, Troops 479 and 5479 — alongside Troop 370 — sent out trailers and volunteer Scouts to pick up trees. Once a trailer was full, the trees were brought back to the lot, unloaded from the trailer and transferred into a dumpster.

The Scouts worked together to keep the operation running smoothly, with some Scouts unloading trailers and others on top of the dumpsters to continue to pile trees once they got full.

Waste Connections brought new dumpsters and took the full ones to yard debris recycling throughout the day.

Troop 479, which is open to boys, and Troop 5479, which is open to girls, meet at the Family of Christ Lutheran Church at 7 p.m. Mondays. For more information about the troops, including how to get involved, email

Troop 370 is open to boys and girls and meets at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in the gym at 6:45 p.m. Mondays. For more information about the troop, including how to get involved, call Scoutmaster Frank Hernandez at 360-601-9501.

Columbian staff reporter