Christmas tree disposal

Disposed Christmas trees are pictured at Libs Park Wednesday. Christmas trees can be left at the Aquacourt parking lot, Duncan Field parking lot or at the south side of Libs Park.

Hastings residents looking to dispose of their once-beloved live Christmas trees may drop them off at any of three designated locations this year.

Those locations are: Duncan Field, 601 E. South St.; Hastings Aquacourt parking lot, 2200 W. Third St.; and Libs Park, in the southwest corner of the park along 14th Street. Deadline for drop-off is Jan. 18.

That fewer trees have been left this year is due largely to the shift in tree availability in recent years.

With fewer area stores offering live Christmas trees due to supply shortages triggered by the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, pandemic and extreme temperatures, tree prices have continued to climb, driving many once-loyal customers to purchase artificial trees instead.

The decline in live tree sales certainly has been observable at the city’s drop sites through the years, said Terry Brown, parks maintenance superintendent for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. Brown has observed the annual collection operation for all 27 of his years with the department and notes the drop-off in disposals has been an ongoing trend since the 1980s. But early returns to date suggest this year’s tree total may well represent the city’s lowest count in recent memory.

“This year it’s really gone downhill,” Brown said. “I’d say we’re probably half of what we usually are. This year, they were so expensive, and the size of the trees were smaller than usual.

“We probably average about 30 trees on a load with our big trucks. In the 1980s and 1990s we ran four or five trucks. Now we’re down to only one run per week and run our smaller trucks.”

Discarded trees are either transported to the Hastings Solid Waste Landfill/Wood Facility to be ground into mulch or deposited in area lakes to be used as fish habitat, Brown said.

“We add bricks to them and let them sink to the bottom,” he said.

Those still planning to drop off trees at the designated sites are asked to remove all ornaments and hooks and limit their deposit to live trees.