Elkhart County commissioners and residents discuss alternatives to leaf burning

Published: Jan. 16, 2018 at 11:40 PM EST
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Elkhart County residents and commissioners are talking about alternatives to leaf burning. This comes as people continue moving outside the city limits.

As people move closer together, burning leaves becomes more of a nuisance.

Right now there are six options on the table. Two choices are more costly than the four cheaper ones.

One is a county-wide vacuuming option that could run upwards of 500,000 to 800,000 thousand dollars each season. An Enfocus representative compared it to St. Joe County and South Bend leaf pickup.

An alternative to decrease the cost is to have vacuuming in service zones, focusing efforts in more densely populated areas.

On the more cost efficient side there is the option of composting. Enfocus said Porter County has a composting option that seems to work well in the area. It used to cost residents 15 dollars to join, but now it's free because it has caught on.

They also discussed providing mulching blades to put on lawn mowers in the fall.

Finally, they talked about adding more leaf drop off sites to the county and educating the public on when the proper time is to leaf burn if it must be done.

Any of the alternatives can be combined.

"An education effort can be combined with a backyard do-it-yourself option such as composting, so adding them together might kind of magnify their effects," said Allison Turner, an innovation consultant for Enfocus. "Having more alternatives gives people more options to not leaf burn."

The group also talked about incentivizing people to take these alternatives to leaf burning to protect their neighbors from breathing in the smoke from it.

In March and April they'll start piloting some of the alternatives, pick their top choices over the summer then in the fall and beyond they'll start to implement the alternatives incrementally.

This was the second of three meetings. The last one will be held on Thursday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Osolo Elementary School in the library if you'd like to learn more.

You can also contact Turner directly by emailing

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