The ghosts of Christmas trees past rest in an old landfill several miles north of Lawrence.
Stll haven't gotten rid of that tree?
For anyone who hasn’t yet taken down their Christmas tree, the city will do another round of collection this Friday. Trees need to be on the curb by 6 a.m. and should not include any artificial items including tinsel, lights or tree stands. They also shouldn’t be wrapped in plastic bags or other material.
For about a decade, the city of Lawrence has been hauling Christmas trees to a landfill that shut down decades ago. It’s a way to recycle trees and provide habitat for nearby animals.
Early this week the latest crop of trees, still smelling of pine, were dumped next to a long row of the skeletal remains from the trees of yesteryear, their brown branches barren of any holiday cheer.
This Christmas tree graveyard is actually a second life for the trees. Foxes, deer, coyotes, rabbits and eagles all roam the former landfill. Less than a quarter of a mile away from a bend in the Kansas River, the site is surround by land that has been reclaimed by cattails, native grasses, elms and cottonwoods.
Behind the row of decaying Christmas trees is a stack of debris from the 2006 microburst that hit Lawrence.
The piles of trees that were dumped on Monday will be spread out into long rows to provide space for animals to burrow.
“I’ve seen all kinds of wildlife here,” said Robert Morgan Sr., with the city’s solid waste division, who helped unload the trees on Monday morning. As Morgan drove away, geese could be heard honking in the distance.
The tree collection began last Friday as the city’s solid waste operators cruised the streets of Lawrence picking up more than 1,200 trees that were set out on curbs.
For Ann Basel it was a good day to go to work.
“The smell is very pleasant,” said Basel, who was operating the garbage truck. “It smells like you are in the woods.”
On the back of the truck were Jeffery Moten and James Parson. With one hand, Moten would swoop down to pick up a tree and toss it into the truck. A hydraulic lift pushed the trees farther back, crunching branches and releasing that distinctive pine scent.
“This is quite pleasant compared to the regular trash,” Moten said.
On Friday, the trash crews dumped the trees off at the city’s composting facility, where on Monday they were loaded into Dumpsters that could hold 40 yards of cubic waste. At least four of those boxes carried trees to the old landfill site.
In the past two years, more than 4,400 trees have been collected.