By Jeff Lehr

Globe Staff Writer

City crews will begin picking up leaves in Joplin on Dec. 1.

Mary Anne Phillips, recycling coordinator for the city, said that until then, residents are being asked not to rake their leaves into the street where they tend to clog storm drains.

Residents who wish to dispose of leaves prior to Dec. 1 can bring them to the Joplin Public Works Center at 1301 W. Second St. where there are collection bins available 24 hours a day throughout the year, Phillips said. She said tree limbs and brush should not be placed in the bins.

Leaves collected in the bins are mixed with grass clippings at the city's compost center and the compost produced is provided to the public for free at the Joplin Recycling Center, 1310 W. A St., from 2 to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

The burning of leaves is allowed within city limits, although it is discouraged. Permission to burn must be obtained from the Joplin Fire Department. For more information on the burning of leaves, residents should call the Fire Department at 623-0403, Phillips said.

Phillips said another alternative to leaf disposal is home composting. To create compost, simply put leaves, grass and kitchen scraps in a compost bin, keep it moist, stir it occasionally and gradually harvest the finished compost from the bottom of the bin, she said. Finishing usually takes about two seasons.

Phillips said composting keeps yard waste from going to landfills and produces a free, organic fertilizer.

"Composting is of particular importance now that the city of Joplin is required to educate residents and business owners on the best management practices toward the Environmental Protection Agency's Phase II Storm Water Rule," Phillips said.

The rule is an effort to reduce the run-off of fertilizers and pesticides into the nation's bodies of water. People are being encouraged to use compost rather than chemicals, Phillips said. She said compost can be tilled into soil to add to the health of plants and make them less susceptible to diseases and insects without the need for chemicals.

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