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Leaf collection keeping crews busy

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

If you haven't noticed, this is leaf season, as those green and then multi-colored leaves are falling to the ground and the lawns. And across the region, they are piling up and have to be taken away.

Every community does it differently, from just pushing them to the curb to be hauled away to the elaborate system Buffalo uses to take leaves and wind up with mulch for garden use and not sending them to a landfill. The city wants the leaves in clear plastic bags to make sure what's inside.

"We maximize all our equipment. We pick up some with open-bed trucks and high-lifts, depending on the volume of leaves on the street," said Steven Stepniak, Public Works Commissioner for the city of Buffalo. 

"We also use packers. We'll take a packer and will use a packer in the evening which is a regular garbage truck which we are able to throw a lot of bags in there and compact them and take them in. So, we use whatever resources are available to us and make sure we get the job done."

According to Stepniak, last year's mild winter allowed crews to collect 5,000 tons of leaves. They were transported to 1120 Seneca for mulching. Despite the cost of pickup and transfer, Stepniak says the city saves money; landfill costs are considerably higher.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.