City offers recycling of Christmas trees

Hannah Grover
Paul Vigil tosses his Christmas tree on to the recycling pile Saturday next to Farmington Fire Department Station No. 5 at 20th Street and Butler Avenue.

FARMINGTON – With Christmas over, the cut evergreens that decorated homes throughout San Juan County are being collected to be turned into mulch.

A small pile of trees filled parking lots at the fire station on 30th Street and the dirt lot off of Scott Avenue in Berg Park. Those firs, spruces and other evergreens had been tossed into the piles behind green-and-white signs designating them as drop-off locations.

Farmington Clean and Beautiful puts together the recycling program each year starting on Christmas. People can take their trees to either location through Jan. 10 to be recycled. Aztec will begin its Christmas tree recycling program Monday. Residents there can drop off their trees through Jan. 11 in the north parking lot of Riverside Park at the end of Light Plant Road in Aztec. The city of Aztec will turn the trees into mulch that will then be available to the public to pick up and use in landscaping projects.

Both Farmington and Aztec require the trees to be free of ornaments and tinsel. Neither city can accept flocked trees.

Paul Vigil remembers dropping off Christmas trees as an annual tradition. He said the recycling is the only responsible thing to do with the trees. Vigil took his tree to the 30th Street location Saturday morning because it had begun to dry out, and he was concerned it could soon become a fire hazard.

"It's been up since the very first day the Boy Scouts started selling," he said.

His wife had purchased the evergreen from the Boy Scouts of America during the annual tree sale. Each year, scouts spend a weekend in November cutting down trees that will then be sold starting at the end of November.

One of the reasons Vigil recycles his tree is because the cities turn the trees into mulch.

"Somebody can use those chips somewhere along the way," Vigil said.

Melissa Rietz also stopped by the fire station to recycle her family's fir tree.

Maureen Rietz, left, and her daughter-in-law, Melissa Rietz, drop off their Christmas tree for recycling Saturday next to Farmington Fire Department Station No. 5 at 20th Street and Butler Avenue.

"I can't imagine doing anything else," she said.

The Farmington resident began recycling trees before her family moved to the area from Michigan three years ago. She said she thinks they have been recycling them for at least a decade.

"People should do it if they're getting live trees," she said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.