Grand Junction begins leaf collection

As yards become colorfully decorated with the season, the city of Grand Junction begins its annual Fall Leaf Pick Up program today.

Raked piles set 18 inches out from the curb that crews will collect is more than just a popular service for residents. It helps keep the leaves out of storm drains, which decreases flooding, and keeps them away from the Colorado River, where they can create algae blooms, city officials said.

Darren Starr, manager of streets and solid waste, said the program holds two-fold importance.

“The leaves get into the street and get into the storm water system and plug up the storm water systems. … And rather than going into the landfill, they go out to the landfill (compost facility) and become compost, so that’s a reuse of the leaves,” he said.

The program, which annually collects more than 10,000 cubic yards, begins today and will run through mid-December, depending upon weather. Given the unpredictability of how quickly the leaves make their descent, a leaf removal hotline will have up-to-date information in case there’s a delay in pickup.

Leaves should be out by
7 a.m. on each area’s scheduled rake-out day, Starr said, adding a reminder that the pickup is just for leaves, not weeds, rocks or tree branches, which can negatively impact the system.

Year-round, leaves can be taken to the Mesa County Compost Facility free of charge. An addition this year is two drop-off days when residents can take them to the Municipal Service Center, 333 West Ave.

When this environmentally-friendly program started more than 20 years ago, the leaves were taken to a local farmer, where they were pounded down by cows and mixed with manure as compost, Starr said. Now, there is a designated compost facility.

A brochure was sent out to residents with their scheduled pickup days, and information can also be found on the city’s website, http://www.gjcity.org.

“We’ll keep picking up until the weather stops us or they are all gone,” Starr said.


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