Today’s news:

11 sites in Queens offer Xmas tree mulching program

City officials are encouraging residents to recycle their Christmas trees this weekend at sites throughout the city, including 11 places in Queens.

“Last year was one of the biggest years we’ve had for people bringing us their trees, and we’re expecting this year to be much bigger,” said Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski. “We’re looking for people to come out and bring us their trees and help us help the environment.”

The city Parks Department launches its 14th-annual MulchFest program Saturday, and individuals may bring their trees to Astoria Park, Baisley Pond Park in Jamaica, Cunningham Park in Fresh Meadows, the Forest Park bandshell, Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village, North Juniper and South Juniper boulevards, Kissena Park in Flushing, Rockaway Beach, Roy Wilkins Park in Jamaica and Travers Park in Jackson Heights.

MulchFest will be held Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All trees brought to the spots will be turned into mulch that will be used to nourish plantings across the city, parks officials said.

“Mulch lays on top of the soil bed in the winter and acts as an insulator to keep the ground warm,” Lewandowski said. “In the summer it can retain water so you need to water your plant beds less often.”

Lights and ornaments must be removed before bringing a tree to any of the MulchFest sites, and residents are asked to bring bags to take advantage of the free mulch provided. The free mulch will be available at Astoria Park, Cunningham Park, Forest Park, Juniper Valley Park, Kissena Park on Sunday, Roy Wilkins Park, and Travers Park.

Queens and city residents have continued to bring more and more trees for recycling in recent years, parks officials said. More than 5,800 trees were recycled in Queens last year, up from 3,886 the year before, a Parks Department spokeswoman said. Citywide, 17,083 trees were recycled last year, a jump from the 13,137 in 2008.

Visit nyc.gov/parks/mulchfest for more information.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

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