Community Agriculture Alliance: Christmas trees, the economy, conservation and you

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“They are green when summer days are bright;

They are green when winter snow is white.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,

Your branches green delight us!”

As you enjoy the awesome tree skiing, decorating trees in your home, or just the magnificent landscape this holiday season, perhaps you’ll find yourself thinking about the facts behind Christmas’ favorite décor. Did you know that North American Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states and Canada and are a renewable, recyclable resource? For each tree harvested, three seedlings are planted in its place.

On the flip side, the U.S. Commerce Department says 80 percent of artificial trees worldwide are manufactured in China and contain nonbiodegradable plastics and possibly metal toxins such as lead.

Here in the U.S., 350,000 acres are in production for growing Christmas trees, and much of that area serves to protect green space. There are close to 15,000 farms growing Christmas trees in the U.S., and more than 100,000 people are employed full or part time in the industry.

Each winter, the Routt County Conservation District, in cooperation with the Colorado State Forest Service nursery in Fort Collins, brings you the opportunity to order seedlings at a discounted rate for conservation purposes to be delivered in May. If you own a minimum of 2 acres of land and are using the trees for conservation purposes, you qualify for our conditions of sale. More than 35 species of tree seedlings are available through our program, 10 species of 5-inch to 12-inch potted trees, and limited numbers and varieties of large and extra large potted trees.

Below are some benefits of conservation through tree planting:

■ Protecting property and livestock from the wind

■ Restoring or enhancing natural beauty

■ Reducing soil erosion and improving crop yields

■ Providing food and cover for wildlife

■ Increasing property values

■ Increasing the number and health of forests

■ Reducing water evaporation, preserving winter moisture and protecting and improving water quality

■ Controlling snow drifts

■ Reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide

■ Reducing heating and cooling costs. By providing protection from sun and wind, trees can reduce energy costs by as much as 30 percent

■ Protecting livestock from the elements, maintaining and improving livestock weight gain and reducing calving losses

■ Increasing supplies of renewable resources

For assistance on buying and planting trees for conservation, please contact Jackie Brown at the Routt County Conservation District at 970-879-3225 or Jaclyn.Brown@co.nacdnet.net. Keep in mind that this program is offered for all of Colorado and species sell out quickly. All orders will be delivered in May.

Jackie Brown is the district manager for the Routt County Conservation District

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