New life for old trees

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Christmas trees sit in front of a wood chipper near Howelsen Ice Arena. The annual Christmas tree recycling program officially kicks off next week.

— The browning Christmas tree in your front room soon could be a sprouting flower in the front yard.

For more than 10 years, the city of Steamboat Springs has turned old Christmas trees into mulch for the public. Trees can be dropped off at the northeast corner of the Howelsen Ice Arena at no cost for the service.

"It's a good way, in an easy place, in the middle of town for people to get rid of their Christmas trees," parks Supervisor Ernie Jenkins said. "Plus, it's good for the environment."

Jenkins said people have started dropping off Christmas trees. The service runs through the month of January.

For the next couple of weeks, Jenkins said he expects between 50 and 100 Christmas trees a day. That many trees usually produce between 20 and 30 cubic yards of mulch, Jenkins said.

The mulch will be free to the public and can be picked up at the same place the trees are dropped off.

Before people drop off the trees, Jenkins said they should make sure that anything that is not the natural part of the tree - such as tinsel, lights, nails, decorations and ribbons - should be removed because of the danger such items could cause when chipped.

Jay Harris of Waste Management said he advises customers to use the city's recycling service.

"It's just a better deal to take those to the city," he said.

Waste Management will pick up Christmas trees, Harris said, but the tree has to be cut into manageable three or four foot sections. Depending on the size of the load, Harris said Waste Management may charge customers extra for the pickup.

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