Where Father Christmas meets Mother Nature.
In Montana, we're giving Christmas trees to children's charities.
Most people know that trees provide us life-giving services—for example, forests store and filter half of our nation’s water, and provide more than a million wood product jobs to American workers.
But of course they also provide other things … such as Christmas trees! Real Christmas trees are better for the environment and better for the economy than fake ones. Plus, they smell wonderful!
Cut your own tree from a nearby National forest or state land, if possible. If you're lucky, maybe you live near a nature preserve where you can get a tree.
Here are the top Nature Conservancy preserves where you can take your family a-huntin’ for a Christmas tree:
- Lizard Tail Swamp Preserve, New Jersey: Nature Conservancy staff will help you cut down a red cedar or a pitch pine tree. Removing these species will help to restore open field habitat that's good for migratory birds, such as warblers, and for pollinating insects. Guests are asked to bring materials to secure the tree to their vehicle for transport.
- Davis Mountains Preserve, Texas: At the Davis Mountain Preserve, regular tree thinning is essential for wildfire prevention and for maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Each year the Conservancy opens the preserve and invites the public to cut their own Christmas trees. You can read one Texan's account of hunting for a tree at Davis Mountains Preserve online.
- Western Montana: Outside Missoula, Montana, Conservancy staff are gathering trees on former industrial timber land that has now been preserved for wildlife and recreation. These trees are then donated to local Missoula children’s charities. Watch a video of this event.
- Chattahoochee Fall Line Project, Georgia: the Conservancy is providing sand pine, a non-native invasive pine tree, for a wreath-making workshop at the Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center on December 1. The sand pines are removed to make way for longleaf pine, a now-rare forest habitat that historically dominated the South.
- Jim Beam Nature Preserve, Kentucky: Clearing Eastern red cedars to make room for hardwood seedlings at the Jim Beam Nature Preserve proved so successful that there are not enough trees for the annual Christmas giveaway this year. Make sure to pay a visit anyway!
P.S. Check out a Christmas tree harvest on California lands the Conservancy helped protect near San Francisco!