Boy Scout Troop 1564 rounded up and recycled roughly 1,000 Christmas trees from homes around the island on Saturday, Jan. 5.
“We broke the record for number of trees recycled,” said Crystal Rich, an Assistant Troop Leader who led the effort.
Tree recycling has been a troop tradition for 16 years.
“It’s a project that benefits everyone. Residents get door-to-door tree pick-up, the trees get new life as groundcover. And trails and garden beds all around the island benefit from lots of new pine chips.”
The troop asks for a donation in return for the pick-up and recycling.
“The money we raise goes to purchase troop equipment like tents and stoves. Individual Scouts also earn money that can be used to help pay for summer camp,” said Troop Leader Dan Bacon.
Hauling more than 1,000 trees in less than eight hours takes a community effort and a lot of logistics.
The troop used Google Maps to create the most efficient routes between the customer’s homes and strategically located drop-off spots throughout the island. Small trucks were used to pick up trees from individual homes, and large trucks carried consolidated hauls back to the American Legion parking lot, where Wagg Tree Service volunteers chipped the trees into mulch.
“It’s a long day of lively work for the Scouts and the grown-ups who help,” Rich said.
After the tree roundup, the troop and volunteers enjoyed a big chili feast.
In addition to the troop’s boys and family members, several local organizations contributed to the success of the tree recycle project, including Ace Hardware, Agate Pass Construction, American Legion Colin Hyde Post 172, Bainbridge Island Metro Park and Recreation District, Congregation Kol Shalom, Fairbank Construction Company, Jiffy Mart, Penny’s Team Realty, Safeway, TRS Trash Removal Service and Wagg Tree Service.
“We couldn’t have done it without all of the groups who loaned trucks, let us use their property as staging sites, and donated their time,” Rich said.
There’s a bit of unfinished business, though.
Households are asked to remove all ornaments, lights and tinsel. Every year, however, some decorations are left on the trees.
On Saturday afternoon, before putting one tree in the wood chipper, troop leader Dan Bacon noticed a forgotten ornament that looked like it might have special value.
“It was a fireplace with four stockings — and each stocking had a name,” he said. “It seemed like something they wouldn’t want to lose.”
Bacon checked the database, located the owners and returned the ornament. “It was a little thing, but it made me feel good for two days.”
The troop has posted a photo of the other forgotten ornaments at www.treerecycle.net/register/index.php and would be happy to return any items claimed by residents.
After all, the Boy Scout motto is “Do a good turn every day.”