When fall falls

The autumn colors can be beautiful, but there is plenty of work hidden in that gold.

The autumn colors can be beautiful, but there is plenty of work hidden in that gold.

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When it comes to leaves, what goes down must come up.

As many homeowners and anyone who parks underneath a tree these days can attest, the leaves are falling. This leads to leaf blowers roaring, rakes being unlimbered and the

annual appearance of “the claw.”

Well, that’s what some call the bright-yellow Case loader that started prowling the streets last week, scooping up loads of leaves and dumping them into the back of a city of Walla Walla garbage truck.

This year the pickup officially started on Nov. 4 as city Public Works employees Curt Hilbert and Calvin Hetterley began picking up the fallen foliage lining the sides of Colville Street in downtown Walla Walla. City crews will continue clearing streets, usually finishing up around the first week of December.

How many tons of leaves do city crews haul away? The amount varies from year to year — autumn winds and rain probably play a big role in this — but last year 1,460 tons were taken away to the city landfill, said Shannon Schaff, city Public Works Department secretary. That figure includes not only what came off the streets, but also the leaves left at city drop boxes.

“That’s an awful lot of leaves,” Schaff noted.

The foliage doesn’t go to waste. At the landfill, it’s dumped into heaps where bacteria go to work and turn it all into compost. After that, it’s available for gardeners to spread on flower beds and elsewhere so the growing cycle can start again next spring. For mulch purchasing information, call the city of Walla Walla Landfill at 524-4524.

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