Winter storms taking toll on Bristol’s trees and those who clean them up

DPW worker Roger Belmore cuts dead branches from trees overhangingh roads in preparation for the latest winter storm. DPW worker Roger Belmore cuts dead branches from trees overhangingh roads in preparation for the latest winter storm.

DPW worker Roger Belmore cuts dead branches from trees overhangingh roads in preparation for the latest winter storm.

DPW worker Roger Belmore cuts dead branches from trees overhangingh roads in preparation for the latest winter storm.

Ever since the Blizzard of 2013 hit in early February, the town’s one and only wood chipper has run non-stop to help clear the downed tree limbs and other brush piles left behind by the heavy snow and wind.

“We’re out every day,” said Jim Galuska, director of the department of public works.

Evergreen trees and arborvitaes were hit particularly hard by the storm, Mr. Galuska said.

“It’s hard to say which part of town was hit hardest. Whichever parts of town have trees were the hardest hit,” he said. “Our budget for ice and snow is taking a beating this year.”

The town’s compost facility also increased its service to help rid homeowners of yard debris left by the storm.

“Normally curbside pick-up runs April through November,” said Jose DaSilva, the compost and wastewater department director.

During the off months, residents who have yard debris can call for a pick up.

“After the storm, people have been calling. Our list is getting longer. We started regular pick-ups yesterday,” Mr. DaSilva said.

Unlike some towns that send a wood chipper through neighborhoods to remove piles of residential branches, in Bristol, with only one chipper and a sparse crew, the town requires that any yard debris be kept in a leaf bag, barrel or bundled in four foot lengths. No branches larger than eight inches in diameter will be taken by the compost truck.

The compost facility and the DPW will coordinate their efforts, Mr. DaSilva said, “once the snow is gone and people can be spared.”

Another powerful winter storm was expected overnight Wednesday and into Thursday bringing the potential for more wet, heavy snow, the kind that damages trees, into the area.

“We’re watching the weather and putting plows on our smaller trucks,” he said in preparation for what could come. “This is a strange one. The one to three inches could go up. If (the storm) goes west we’ll get rain.”

Mr. Galuska was clear with his preference.

“Let’s hope for rain,” he said.

Yard waste — what you need to know

Acceptable items
• Containers must be clearly marked “compost”
• Only grass clippings, leaves and brush are to be placed in the paper bags
• Weight limit for bags and barrels is 50 pounds
• Barrel size is limited to 35 gallons
• Brush must be tied in bundles of 4-foot lengths

Unacceptable items
• Plastic bags
• Containers with foreign matter (dirt, sod, rocks, plastic, trash, etc.)
• Overweight or oversized containers
• Any material left behind will be tagged and not picked up until the following week, if it’s made acceptable

Note: Yard waste bags can be purchased for $8 per bundle of 25 bags (checks only) at the department of public works or water pollution control department.

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