Tree disposal needed? Local scouts, services offer to help with post-Christmas tradition

Gary Tilley of Eureka drops off his Christmas tree in the recycling dumpster across from Humboldt Waste Management Authority on West Hawthorne Street in Eureka on Thursday. The dumpster should be there for use for about another week and a half. (Shaun Walker — The Times-Standard)

With Christmas in the rearview, residents might be left wondering what to do with their dying Christmas trees.

Across the county, many free drop-off locations are available to the public. Additionally, there are a variety of curbside pick-up services available as well.

Jill Duffy, the executive director of the Humboldt Waste Management Authority, said it’s important to properly dispose of old Christmas trees and offers some advice for where and how to do just that.

“They’re compostable,” she said. “Keeping them out of the landfill, taking the material and composting it is a higher and better use for the trees.”

Composting the trees offers numerous benefits, she said. It preserves space in the landfills because the trees are diverted, and also saves on the transportation cost that would be associated with tree transport.

Since the trees will be composted, it’s important to ensure they’re properly prepared, Duffy said. This means removing essentially everything from the tree, including ornaments, tinsel, wire, stands and lights. Additionally, trees that have been chemically treated with flocking or similar chemicals should not be recycled.

HWMA has a bin located outside of their transfer station on West Hawthorne Street in Eureka, where residents can drop off their trees for free. Refer to the list with this article for other free drop-off sites.

For those looking for curbside pickup, Recology Humboldt County offers a pick-up service for Arcata, Eureka and Humboldt County residents, which can be arranged by calling the service, according to General Manager Linda Wise. But Wise encourages residents to first contact a local Girl Scout Troop or a local Cub Scout Pack, both of which are offering to pick up trees for a small donation as a way to raise money.

Cheryl Kingham, who is the troop leader of McKinleyville Girl Scout Troop 70181, said the disposal of trees is an important fundraising activity for the troop. The troop is working to raise $30,000 to visit the World Girl Guide and Girl Scout Center at Pax Lodge, she said. The troop will be picking up trees in the McKinleyville area and the suggested donation for tree disposal is $7.

“Girls can do anything boys do,” she said. “We generally pick up about 200 trees and have regular customers who look forward to us doing it every year.”

They will be picking up trees from Jan. 1 to Jan. 5. Kingham can be reached at 707-839-3714 to schedule a pickup.

Dan Gale, the assistant cub master of Cub Scouts Pack 95, said they would also be picking up trees in McKinleyville, but will cover Blue Lake, Arcata and are working with Boy Scouts Troop 15 to cover Eureka as well.

“The scouts use the funds for winter and summer camping trips,” he said. “It helps offset some of the expenses.”

Gale said donations are appreciated, but hesitated to name an amount because he doesn’t want people to think they won’t dispose of a tree if they can’t afford it. Typically, people donate between $5 and $20, he said, but the scouts will pick up trees for free as well.

Gale said people can schedule a tree pickup until Jan. 5 by calling or texting 707-440-9272 with their name, address, phone number and preferred date of pick up. Residents can also email information to

Christmas tree drop-off sites

Blue Lake

Where: Clemance Field/Perigot Park, 312 S. Railroad Ave.

From: Dec. 28-Jan. 13

Contact: 707-668-5932


Where: Fireman Park, 100 Berding Street

From: Dec. 28-30, Jan. 4-6

Contact: 707-786-4224


Where: HWMA’s Hawthorne Street Transfer Station, 1059 West Hawthorne St.

From: Dec. 26-Jan. 20

Contact: 707-268-8680


Where: Humboldt Sanitation Transfer Station, 2585 Central Ave.

From: Dec. 26-Jan. 13

Contact: 707-839-3285


Where: Recology Eel River’s Fortuna Transfer Station, 965 Riverwalk Dr.

From: Dec. 26-Jan. 20

Contact: 707-725-5156

Rio Dell

Where: Rio Dell City Hall back parking lot, 675 Wildwood Ave.

From:  Dec. 28-30, Jan. 4-6

Contact: 707-764-3532


Where: Wes Green Landscaping, 6360 West End Road

From: Jan. 1-13

Contact: 707-822-8035

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