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Coeur d'Alene postpones annual leaf pickup as more snow is expected in the forecast

Those who have already pushed leaves into the streets, and those who haven't, are encouraged to take them to the Ramsey Road transfer station.
Credit: CDA Press

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Citizens of Coeur d'Alene, you can stop pushing leaves into the streets.

The city won't be coming for them — not as scheduled on Monday, and likely not until next year.

Todd Feusier, director of the Streets and Engineering Department, said Thursday that Leaf Fest has been postponed, as reported by our news partners, the Coeur d'Alene Press.

He said it was a difficult decision but one that had to be made, especially with more snow expected next week. Leaf Fest was slated to begin Monday and generally takes about two weeks to complete a sweep of the city.

"The extended forecast of very cold temperatures is not conducive to a successful program," a press release said. "The trees continue to hold their leaves, the ground temperature has dropped significantly, and the sweeping equipment will not be able to operate efficiently in the current conditions."

Feusier said there is a chance the city could come for the leaves before Christmas, but it would be a "long shot." It would take a perfect scenario of a sudden heat wave of sorts to melt the snow and ice and a long break from snowfall.

"We are hopeful that Mother Nature will give us some warming weather," he said.

More likely, it won't be until next year, late winter or early spring, which would "afford the best opportunity to complete the program."

He said the city has never canceled Leaf Fest, but has delayed it up to two weeks.

As Coeur d'Alene is a Tree City USA, trees of many types — maple, oak, elm fir, cherry and pine — line neighborhoods and parks.

And that means lots of leaves and plenty of pine needles come down each fall.

So Leaf Fest is popular and many count on it to get rid of their mounds of leaves.

Feusier said the city commits a lot of time, effort and resources to Leaf Fest. It involves dump trucks, front-end loaders and about 30 city staffers from three departments.

They also rent equipment and contract with Cannon Hill Industries to have the leaves grinded at the Coeur d'Alene Airport.

"It takes a lot of time to get this going," he said. "It's not just a five-minute decision."

Residents have been pushing, throwing, raking and snow-blowing leaves into the streets since Nov. 1.

But snowfall totaling more than 7 inches in the first week of the month is now covering those leaves. Since lows have been in the teens and highs around freezing, the snow is sticking around. And many city neighborhoods are shaded.

"So the snow won't leave and next week, more snow is in the forecast," Feusier said.

To try and pick up leaves in such conditions, he said, "would make a mess."

Once the city shifts into snowplow mode, it pretty much has to stick with it for the rest of winter.

Feusier said those who already pushed leaves into the streets, and those who haven't, are encouraged to take them to the Ramsey Road transfer station.

Leaves that are left in the street will be pushed back when the city begins plowing, Feusier said.

The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our partners, click here.

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