A weekly blog for all things conservation
.By MEGAN ROUGHT Ag Resource Specialist
Christmas is in the air and what better way to get into the holiday spirit then going out and getting yourself a fresh cut Christmas tree.
One of my favorite traditions to do during the Christmas season is go to a local U-cut Christmas tree farm and find the perfect tree. My family and I will scour the fields until we find the perfect tree.
We then cut it down, take it home, and decorate it with all our ornaments and lights. But then what do you do when Christmas is over, and the tree must come down? Many people don’t realize that there are multiple different environmentally friendly options. Your Christmas tree can be used as habitat/shelter, food, or even erosion control
Christmas trees are perfect for providing habitat for both fish and birds. Fish love Christmas trees for a source of shelter. Smaller fish seek shelter from their prey in these submerged Christmas trees.
Another advantage to these submerged Christmas trees is that they have also been shown to increase aquatic diversity. A more diverse habitat leads to a healthier ecosystem. Birds also like to use Christmas trees as a source of shelter and warmth which is much needed during the winter months here in Pennsylvania. If you want to take it one step further for these birds you can “redecorate” your tree, but instead of lights and ornaments you can use pinecones, peanut butter, bird seed, dried orange slices, and unsalted popcorn.
These items will provide the birds with a source of food along with the shelter that they are already receiving from the tree. Another animal that could benefit from recycling your Christmas tree is goats. Goats love to eat Christmas trees! In fact, there are some goat farmers in Pennsylvania that ask for you to bring your Christmas trees to them so they can use it as a source of food. The pine needles provide a great source of vitamins, greens, and fibers for the goats. Christmas trees are excellent for providing shelter and food, but they are also great for providing erosion control.
Christmas trees can be used as erosion control in both streams and beaches. Since we don’t have many beaches around here, we will focus mainly on the streams, but it is an interesting fact to know that beaches are requesting that people bring their Christmas trees to the beach so that they can be used in efforts to prevent beach erosion. Christmas trees can also be anchored to streambanks to help prevent erosion in the stream. The trees being anchored to the streambank reduce the impact of the water on the stream banks and they also trap sediment which in turn makes a healthier stream.
Who knew that Christmas trees could be used past Christmas time? Well now you do! So, this year when you are taking down your Christmas tree think of what you want to do with it. Will you and your family “redecorate” it for the birds, throw it in a pond, give it to some happy goats, or anchor it to your stream bank to stop erosion? Which ever one of these options you choose just know that you are helping the environment by doing it!
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District