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Go green this Christmas season

Christmas has come and gone and people no longer want their holiday trees.

However, Kitsap County and a couple local Boy Scout troops want those old, used Christmas trees.

The countywide treecycling program began yesterday and runs through Jan. 15 at various locations. Trees will be accepted free-of-charge during regular business hours except on New Year’s Day. Recycling and garbage facilities will close at 2 p.m. Dec. 31 as well.

A couple local Boy Scout troops also are collecting trees. Troop 1506 Scoutmaster Kevin Giles said the Tracyton Boy Scout troop has been collecting trees to recycle for a number of years and it is one of their biggest fundraisers.

Giles said money raised from collecting used trees funds the troop’s parents club and maintenance on Scout Hall in Tracyton.

Giles said the Scouts love collecting used trees and know the fundraiser brings in lots of money for Troop 1506.

“They love collecting the trees. They absolutely love collecting them,” he said. “They know it’s an important fundraiser.”

Giles said Scout Austin Brown, 17, organized this year’s treecycling program for Troop 1506. The Olympic High School senior led the charge by arranging meetings, printing 2,500 flyers and rallying the rest of his troop to collect the used trees.

“This is his year,” Giles said. “He puts in quite a bit of effort.”

Giles said collecting used trees is “more of a camaraderie outing” for the Scouts. They enjoy spending time together and taking the trees off people’s hands.

“It’s kind of a chance for them to hang out together,” Giles said. “Boys throwing trees on the back of a pickup truck is always a fun thing.”

Giles said people living in the Tracyton area who received flyers can put their trees on the curb Jan. 3 and Troop 1506 will drive by and pick it up to be recycled.

“If they’re on the route, then we’ll pick them up,” he said.

Vicki Bushnell, with Kitsap County Public Works, said the county has seen a decrease in the number of used trees collected, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“Over the years we have counted and it really fluctuates,” she said. “It’s gone down quite a bit and we think it’s because people use artificial trees.”

Bushnell said people using artificial trees means less people will dump real trees illegally.

People are reminded to remove nails, tinsel, lights and ornaments before recycling trees. Flocked trees cannot be accepted because they are potentially harmful to the environment. Wreaths and garland will not be accepted for recycling either.

After the trees are collected, the county throws them into a wood chipper and makes beauty bark that’s given out to residents for free. To get on the “free chips” list, download the form at www.kitsapgov.com/sw or call The Open Line at (360) 337-5777.

For more information on disposal methods, people can visit the aforementioned Web site.

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