Christmas tree recycling options in Whatcom County

If you're planning for the Boy Scouts to pick up your Christmas tree, you need to have it out on the curb by 8 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 3.Remember to remove the stand, lights and all decorations, including tinsel.

This year's coordinator, Phil McAfee, said residents of Bellingham, Ferndale, Blaine and Lynden can put their trees in front of their houses for the Boy Scouts to pick up. No call is necessary. The Scouts cover other areas based on residents calling ahead of time.

The Scouts ask for a donation in exchange for taking your tree. Residents shouldn't leave donations on or near the tree. Instead wait for a Scout to contact them.

Phil McAfee has been coordinating the service project for the past 22 years, ever since he took the reigns from his son, Andrew McAfee.

"Our oldest son, who is an Eagle Scout, started the project when he was 16 or so," Phil McAfee said. "When he left home, he came in and set the packet of information on my desk and said, ‘Dad, you can do this.' I said, ‘I don't want to,' and he said, ‘Well, I'm leaving. You're in charge.'"But Phil McAfee said that the project has been a joy year after year. "I love the kids and the people that we service," he said.

On average, the Scouts collect about 10,000 trees and take them to several drop sites in the area, where the trees are fed to a wood chipper. The resulting mulch is donated to city parks departments. Phil McAfee estimates that 500 people — mostly Scouts and their leaders — participate in the project each year.

For more information, call Phil McAfee at 733-1513.

Reach Anna Walters at anna.walters@bellinghamherald.com or call 756-2883.