If discarded Christmas trees are a telltale sign, then Napa’s economy is definitely on the rise.
During their pickup drive earlier this month, local Boy Scouts said they were surprised to find a steep increase in the number of real Christmas trees troops collected outside Napa homes, along with higher monetary donations. This was a sharp reversal of recent years, during which collections had declined.
“We were so busy we couldn’t count,” said Paul Bartelt, scoutmaster for Troop 83.
Not only were there more trees for the boys to collect, but the evergreens were larger than those of recent years, leading Bartelt to believe families spent more on their holiday decor.
“Last year, I’d say the average tree was 5 feet,” Bartelt said. “This year, we were seeing 6-, 7- and 8-foot trees.”
In addition to having more trees to collect, the boys were receiving more donations than in past years, Bartelt said. Scouts collect and recycle the trees as a community service project, but they do accept $5 donations for each tree to help cover the cost of summer camp.
Usually, the boys receive money for 25 percent of the trees they pick up, but this year about 75 percent of the homes that left trees at the curb for removal also left donations, Bartelt said.
About $12,000 to $13,000 was raised by troops in Napa and Yountville, Bartelt said. He expects more money to trickle in over the next couple months, as boys left pre-addressed envelopes at homes that did not leave a donation in case they chose to donate later.
Troop 83 collected $3,600, which will be split among the 30 boys who participated in the recycling project, Bartelt said.
Bartlett Tree Experts of Napa and Sonoma donated its chipping service to grind up the trees. The chips may be used at Skyline Park and in the St. John’s Lutheran Church community garden.