Christmas tree available by donation Dec. 7 in Red Deer

Red Deerians will soon be able take home a freshly cut Christmas tree if they donate to the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

The NCC will be at the Christmas Holiday Craft and Market, at the Baymont Inns and Suites in Red Deer, to give a limited number of blue spruce trees available for pickup by donation from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 7.

“This event is a great way for us to raise awareness for NCC and the work we do, but more importantly, it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet neighbours and other community members,” said Keltie Manolakas, NCC manager of engagement.

“We hope people will come out to the craft market to support local vendors, participate in the festivities and leave with their very own Nature Conservancy of Canada Christmas tree.”

On Dec. 6, NCC staff and conservation volunteers will remove these trees from the Haynes property near Pine Lake.

When the NCC acquired this property in 2011, it also inherited a tree farm full of white and blue spruce. White spruce is indigenous to the area, but the Colorado blue spruce isn’t native anywhere in Canada, so the NCC’s naturalization plan has targeted them for removal.

Rather than cutting down all bleu spruces at once, the NCC plans to gradually remove these trees over the next decade to give the native species more room to grow and create a more natural, staggered forest than the evenly spaces rows of the tree farm.

Once all of the blue spruce have been removed from this conservation site, NCC plans to diversify the forest by planting native shrubs, aspen and balsam poplar trees.

This is the fourth year NCC has hosted a tree removal event. Last year, NCC hosted an open-house the following day, which was attended by more than 80 neighbours, donors, partners, landowners and members of the central Alberta community.

NCC has been actively working in the Red Deer River area for more than a decade. To date, we have helped conserve 9,700 acres (3,900 hectares) in the area. This region was selected for conservation because it contains the highest density of intact parkland in central Alberta.

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