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Turnover of new leaves is huge in Glenwood

JOHN GARDNERGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. PearsonJerry Olp rakes remaining leaves out of the bed of his truck at the leaf collection site located at the rodeo grounds in Glenwood Springs.
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Near the end of the bumpy Airport Road, just within Glenwood Springs’ southern stretch, rests a mountain of leaves the color of October rust.Larry Billinger, an equipment operator with the city of Glenwood’s Streets Department, uses a front loader to fill a large dump truck bed with the downed foliage as the sun retreats behind the hills.Toward the end of the day he’s filled the truck five, maybe six, times. From there the truck makes the round trip to South Canyon Landfill, dumping the leaves at Cacaloco Compost for free. Billinger’s spent several of his work days in October the same way.”The weekends are busy,” Billinger said. “We come in when it fills up and clear it out.”But it doesn’t take long for it to fill up again.

Cacaloco, or “crazy-poop” composting recycles the leaves with sewage waste and wastewater from portable restroom companies and other contributors such as Roto Rooter.”We combine two wasted resources into a renewable one,” said Hans Ayers with Cacaloco Compost at South Canyon Landfill.Besides leaves and grasses, Cacaloco accepts paper, phone books, cardboard and bulk paper. They’ve even included old library books in the mulch.”The bugs love it,” Ayers said. “They are really unaffected by what it is, as long as it was organic or alive at one point.”The collection site is used for parking at the Glenwood Springs Rodeo grounds during the Strawberry Days Rodeo in June.This year’s dry fall weather has allowed it to fill up quicker than usual. It’s kept Billinger busy and Ayers doesn’t mind the added bulk of leaves. Usually, Billinger and one truck driver can tame the growing pile. Last week, Billinger had three trucks hauling leaves for three days.

“People are out there everyday,” Billinger said. “They come with leaves stuffed in the trunk of their car. It’s a free service and they take full advantage of it.”An increase in commercial use contributes to the size of the pile. Thursday afternoon two landscape contractors with trailers brimming with leaves were growing the pile as Billinger scooped up one bucket at a time. It’s a never-ending cycle in the fall.Glenwood Springs Parks superintendent Al Laurette said someone left 18 used paint cans the night before. A large amount of trash bags end up littering the scene as well, because the leaves can’t be left in the bag. Garbage is the downside to being open 24 hours.”Last year we had a couple of refrigerators,” Laurette said. “We put up signs with the rules of what’s allowed for dumping, but we do get other stuff too.”Billinger and Laurette were unsure of the amount of leaves collected each year but both are positive that it’s growing. Laurette did express the importance of the lot’s role for that short period during fall.”We want people to use it for taking their leaves,” Laurette said. “It’s more the fact that we don’t want the leaves in the streets and gutters, plugging up the storm drains. We’re just trying to facilitate them going somewhere more productive.”



Besides the leaf collection, parking for the rodeo and some paintball events, the city is trying to find other alternate uses for the property. However, Laurette is not in favor of the site being turned over for the proposed South Bridge project that would connect Four Mile Road and Midland Avenue with Highway 82.”We had a hard time justifying use of the property for only three days in June,” Laurette said.But there isn’t another site that could be used for leaf collection during the fall, according to Laurette. “I wanted to bring the value of the property to the community’s attention,” he said. “It’s use is pretty important.”When the gates open in the fall, and in June for the rodeo, the patch of land is a popular place. But the rest of the year people forget about what role it plays when fall returns.Billinger has been out there for the past 12 years, every fall, clearing piles of leaves.

“We get a lot,” Billinger said. “I don’t know for sure, but it is a lot.”Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO


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