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Is it against the law to sweep leaves into the street?

KTVB set out to verify whether it is legal or not to sweep and blow leaves into the streets and gutters.

Many of us look forward to this time of year because of the beautiful changing colors of the leaves.

But they can be a real pain to clean up, especially when they seem to be everywhere.

And after a day of sweeping, only to reappear the next day!

So when it comes to sweeping or blowing them off your property, we wanted to find out if there are any rules that prevent us from simply pushing them off into the street or even the gutter.

To verify this, KTVB spoke with Colin Hickman, the communications manager from Boise Public Works and Nicole Dubois, a spokeswoman for the Ada County Highway District.

Here's what we found out.

Under Idaho's criminal statute, sweeping or blowing leaves, which is considered debris in gutters, on highways, streets, alleys, or any road that is used for public transportation is a misdemeanor.

It is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to $2,500 in fines and up to six months in the county jail.

Dubois explains the reasons behind the penalty.

“All of those leaves can block our storm drains and so that has the potential for flooding, and once the leaves get down into the storm drains that can actually affect the quality of the water as that water ultimately returns to the Boise River,” said Dubois.

However, if leaves from trees on your property happen to fall into the street, Dubois says it would be nice to help clean them up, but residents are not required to do so.

“Basically we have multiple sweepers that work through sweeping zones through the year,” said Dubois.

So what's the best way to dispose of fallen leaves?

Hickman says the city strongly recommends composting.

“Leaves make excellent compostable material and with the city's new compostable service it’s a great time to start filling up that compost cart with leaves, and one of the best things about the service is that it's unlimited year round,” said Hickman.

You can also put leaves in your non-recyclable gray trash bin or simply take them to the landfill.

To learn more on the city’s composting program click here.

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