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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane city leaf collection ending for the year, though many trees still have leaves

Dec. 1, 2022 Updated Thu., Dec. 1, 2022 at 8:48 p.m.

Laura Flanagan and her Goldendoddles Ruby and Morgan walk Tuesday along Manito Boulevard. The city will stop collecting yard waste this week for the season even though many trees still have leaves clinging to branches.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI)
Laura Flanagan and her Goldendoddles Ruby and Morgan walk Tuesday along Manito Boulevard. The city will stop collecting yard waste this week for the season even though many trees still have leaves clinging to branches. (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI)

Curbside yard waste collection in Spokane ends for the year Friday, though many trees have stubbornly held onto their leaves and an unusually snowy November made raking difficult.

Until curbside pickup resumes Feb. 27, residents will have to transport yard waste to the city’s waste energy facility or either of the county’s transfer stations, said Chris Averyt, director of Spokane’s Solid Waste Management.

While some residents may have enjoyed the warmest October on record, the trees were tricked into retaining their leaves by the lack of a typical cooling period, said Spokane city Arborist Jeff Perry. With the weather going so quickly from warm to freezing, trees didn’t have time to abscise, a process most deciduous plants go through in the fall to slowly drop their leaves.

By the time the annual Fall Leaf Festival rolled around on Oct. 22, there weren’t enough fallen leaves for the huge piles that children typically play in every year, Perry said. In the 24 years Perry has worked with the city, that was the first time there wasn’t a pile of fallen leaves at the Fall Leaf Festival, he added.

With the sudden turn to freezing temperatures in November, many trees had their leaves frozen in place. The trees will generally be fine, Perry said. The buds for next year’s blooms are already set, and the frozen leaves won’t affect next spring’s growth.

If there’s any risk to tree health, it’s that the smaller trees with more of their leaves are more likely to get overloaded with snow, possibly breaking branches, he said.

A layer of snow may also have prevented some residents from raking their yards. There’s been snow on the ground at the Spokane International Airport since Nov. 7, and there were only four days last month when there wasn’t snow accumulated there.

“It’s quite unusual to carry a snow depth that consistently this early in the season,” said Greg Koch, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Spokane office.

But it wouldn’t make sense for the city to extend or temporarily resume its curbside collection, Averyt said.

“Any leaves that do fall will be covered with additional snow,” he said. “Whatever falls right now will be there in the spring.”

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