Keltie Manolakas, manager of engagement for Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Alberta region, stands next to a Colorado blue spruce tree that were available by donation at Kerry Wood Nature Centre Sunday morning. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Keltie Manolakas, manager of engagement for Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Alberta region, stands next to a Colorado blue spruce tree that were available by donation at Kerry Wood Nature Centre Sunday morning. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Nature Conservancy of Canada offers Christmas trees in Red Deer

The Nature Conservancy of Canada celebrated the holidays by offering Colorado blue spruce trees to Red Deerians in exchange for a donation.

NCC representatives were at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre Sunday to connect with the community and sell the trees that come from a nearby property that used to operate as a tree farm.

“When (the NCC) purchased it, part of the naturalization plan for that property was to remove the non-native blue spruce trees,” explained Keltie Manolakas, manager of engagement for Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Alberta region.

“The Colorado blue spruce trees are not native to Alberta – or Canada at all. If you drive out east of Red Deer, you’re not going to find a stand of these trees.

“They’re all the same age, they’re all the same height and they don’t make for an ideal habitat, so the idea is to make a more natural space to allow room for some of the native grasses to grow back in and at some point we may replant part of the property. But for now we’re just removing them.”

About 30 volunteers were at the 65-hectare property in Pine Lake removing the trees Saturday. This is the third year the NCC has hosted a tree-removal event – it was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This event is a great way for us to meet neighbours and to talk to the community about what the Nature Conservancy of Canada does in the Red Deer region and across Alberta,” said Manolakas.

“It’s an event that helps people get into the holiday spirit and you see people face-to-face. We were as socially distant as we could out on the property (Saturday). There were some family groups who were able to cut down their own tree together and take it home. It was great to come back together and do this.”

The NCC will celebrate its 60th year in 2022.

“I think there’s a lot of work to be done to conserve these natural spaces, especially with what we’ve seen with climate change. It’s more important now than ever to put our focus on nature,” she said.

“I think a lot of people realized during COVID, when nothing else is available, that was the only place you could find some peace, space and solace. It’s really important for us to invest in resources to protect that.”



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

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