A Win-Win Proposition for Christmas Tree Growers and the Planet

Christmas tree growers in Oregon and perhaps other areas, due to the economic situation, feel they may be forced to cut their Christmas trees and burn them. Sequestering CO2 is no high-tech problem. It can be done with trees. Get the following message out to your local grower and save a tree. A cut Christmas tree is still a dead tree. But Psalms 104:16 says, “The trees of the Lord are full of sap.” Read this article and help life on the planet.

Oregon Christmas tree growers are having such economic woes that they feel they must sell Christmas trees for less than it costs to grow them! According to CNN and other news organizations some growers have decided to cut their trees and destroy them rather than sell them at a loss. While science is seeking to come up with all kinds of solutions to global warming (I will address that in another article), the solution to sequestering CO2 is as simple as reforestation and planting new trees.

Of course, we should reduce all types of harmful emissions even if CO2 was not yet a major problem. I use the example that you might be able to work on your running lawnmower in your garage with the doors open. I would not recommend it in any case but particularly not with the doors closed and I would be calling 911 on your behalf if you and all your neighbors were working on their running lawnmowers in your garage simultaneously. I think you would have to be less smart than a fifth grader if you couldn’t figure out that we live in a closed biosphere with an awful lot of engines putting out their fumes, but this article focuses on an answer to the Christmas tree growers dilemma and solving the environmental dilemma we are facing with excessive CO2.

It is not just political correctness that has changed the terminology from global warming to climate change. Unless you are a scientist it is difficult to even explain the diverse effects of global warming. The scripture says, “The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunken man.” This is the effect of climate change. To a less scientific generation having all four seasons repeatedly occurring in a month or two could best be described as the earth reeling to and fro. Such uncharacteristic fluctuations make growing food locally a very difficult task no matter where your “local” is.

I offer a simple solution that is proven, is simple, helps wildlife including threatened and endangered bird species, can act as dust control and reduces CO2 in the atmosphere. This is not theory, multitudes of people have proven it and I am one of them. What I’m talking about is buying those excess trees from Christmas tree producers and planting them wherever you have room. On my home site I have planted approximately 35 evergreens to my great delight.

In my case I bought Christmas trees that grew a little bit too large to trim any longer and were going to be bulldozed for the replanting of seedling Christmas trees. I offered to hand dig them and haul them in my pickup truck and I got them for about 1/10th of what I would have paid for them in a nursery. It was just a few years ago that I planted them. Because we had excellent rains this year some of them added 10 feet to their already impressive height in one season. They now block dust from getting into our yard and house from the dirt road we live on.

A local ornithologist discovered at least one active bird nest in every tree just at eye level, not including in the heights of the trees. I planted what was available, Norway spruce. The grower had excess soil and with one scoop of it from his backhoe was able to easily replace the root ball that I dug with each tree. Trees should be dug at the same distance from the trunk as the longest branches; therefore, the root ball will be as wide as the tree including the branches. With mine, the root ball was approximately three and one-half feet wide and at least one and one-half feet deep. You will need a sharp pointed shovel, a flat shovel and either a pruning saw or a pair of loppers. These are to cut the roots beyond the spread of the branches. Provided the root ball is adequately soaked at the time of planting or during droughts, it should grow many new roots within the first year. Trees should be planted no deeper than they were in the field. And guess what? Right now is the best time of the year to plant them!

All of my trees not only survived but flourished. They give our country home privacy. During winter storms they have even brought wild turkeys to our songbird feeders because most of our surrounding woodlots are deciduous. They have been a blessing in every way. It would have been too expensive to acquire these trees at a nursery and we would have had to plant seedlings instead and would still be waiting to see a little maturity. It saved the Christmas tree grower to have the Christmas trees removed and instead of them being burned and adding to the atmospheric CO2, they are capturing it. I believe in many cases this could be a win-win situation.

There may be vacant lots, parks, school grounds, campuses, churches and synagogues, mosques and even greenbelts that would love to get some of these trees. Perhaps you could talk to some of these potentially interested parties and volunteer with some friends to purchase a tree and plant it. For half my life I was a landscaper and I can think of few earthly joys greater than going back and seeing a Cedar of Lebanon, Mountain Hemlock, Aristata Pine or giant Sequoia after 30 or 40 years or growth. Some of these species can continue for hundreds or even thousands of years. But even the value to the ecology of a Noble Fir, Douglas Fir or Scotch Pine can be great.

Would you join this grass roots movement by contacting the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association and asking them if they could facilitate a way whereby local residents could purchase a living tree at a discount to plant at their home or one of the sites I mentioned. A degraded field with fallow ground is a great place to put a few of these trees or many. For the cost of gathering a pocketful of acorns, hickory nuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts or apple seeds, you can introduce a bio-diverse habitat that provides both food and shelter for wildlife and reduces greenhouse gases. Doing this requires a weekend or two a year and the transformation from wasteland to wonderland begins almost immediately and keeps on increasing.

I am suggesting, even begging, that you contact the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association at (503) 364-2942 and ask them to find creative ways to cut their prices to residents who want to dig their own tree and plant it for the benefit of the planet. They could still make a profit and bring some prosperity to animal species struggling to survive.

Also for nationwide impact, contact the National Christmas Tree Association by writing a post card or letter to: 16020 Swingley Ridge Rd, Ste 300 Chesterfield, MO 63017. Recommend that they advertise any Christmas trees that would otherwise be destroyed to local residents to purchase and dig and transport at a discounted price (many Christmas trees are shipped very long distances to big cities and these transportation costs fall on the grower, by eliminating those costs the tree farmer can afford to sell them at a discount). Who knows what the economy will do in the next few years, Christmas tree sales may become totally unprofitable. You might also recommend that they sell machine dug and boxed trees to nurseries at a discounted price rather than destroying the trees. It may sound old-fashioned but we still need to think globally and act locally.

Trees are not commodities: they are living things, “The trees of the Lord are full of sap!” The American Chestnut tree was an enormous, beautiful creation of God. Unlike the native people, we stopped loving the Chestnut tree and cut as much of it as possible until it was struck by blight and just about totally eliminated. Anything we don’t love vanishes. Hugging a tree is a form of blessing to both the people and the tree but planting one is realistically a more loving act.

I once, as a young man, worked on building fire trails around clear-cuts in Oregon near the coast to prevent accidental fires from spreading to the wild forests. The trees were so big around it was stunning to see them. They towered above the earth majestically. I was shocked to see trees of awesome diameter and height groan as the saws cut through them catapulting them over cliff sides many stories high. As they hit the boulders below they shot back up from the ground in sprays of shattered timber that from the distance looked like a billion toothpicks. When I asked the foresters why they were wasting so many trees their reply was simply, “We’re required to cut everything…everything!”

I observed places full of wild rhododendrons blooming beneath miles of stretched out evergreen branches harboring spruce grouse, endangered coastal birds and awesome herds of elk. The bible says that it was in such a place that King David discovered the habitation, the living room of the God who is everywhere. My co-workers on one occasion went home for the weekend and thought I was crazy for staying behind all alone so far from civilization. I was deep in the wilderness and pitched my shelter on a boulder, the size of a city block, high above the tree covered mountains and valleys around me.

All night Friday a bear growled at the base of the rock as if he were attempting to climb up to where I was. A deep fog settled in and the presence of God surrounded me in a way that I had never before or since experienced. Because of the sleepless night I awakened to see brilliant sunlight penetrating openings in the fog and shinning down on clouds a thousand feet below me and herds of elk beneath them. Much of that forest is gone today and there are areas of Oregon where those majestic giants once stood that now only produce scrub-brush because they have never been replanted. A lot of those Christmas trees could reforest much of the neglected private lands.

I certainly hope the state and federal government are doing a better job of reforesting the public lands! Be sure of this, one day the practices depicted in these photographs will end forever. If you want a tree why not buy one from a local Christmas tree farmer and plant it where it will most likely enjoy a lifetime longer than your own. I think that should make your Christmas merry and it certainly will make a merrier life for the many creatures that will use it.


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