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Volunteers cut down Christmas trees for conservation effort near Red Deer, Alta.

·2 min read
Volunteers helped remove non-native trees from a property near Red Deer Saturday. (Submitted by Keltie Manolakas - image credit)
Volunteers helped remove non-native trees from a property near Red Deer Saturday. (Submitted by Keltie Manolakas - image credit)

People had the chance to pick up a holiday tree by donation in Red Deer, Alta., this weekend, after volunteers culled a property of non-native trees — mostly blue spruce.

The trees were removed from a Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) property in Pine Lake, about 22 kilometres southeast of Red Deer, as part of an effort to restore the site to its natural state.

While cutting down trees can seem counterintuitive to environmentalism, Keltie Manolakas, manager of engagement at NCC Alberta, says it's to renaturalize the area with native trees and to create a better habitat for wildlife.

Before NCC bought the 65-hectare property in 2011, the previous owners ran a tree farm operation on the site.

Helen Pike/CBC
Helen Pike/CBC

"Right now, all the trees are the same age, the same height, the same kind, and so we're thinning them out to give space for some of the native grasses to grow back," Manolakas said.

"Some trees don't belong where they're placed, unfortunately."

With Calgary retailers facing shortages due to container shortages, transportation delays, drought in B.C. and greater demand, it was a good opportunity for people to grab a tree.

Manolakas says it's also an opportunity for people who want real Christmas trees to be mindful consumers.

Helen Pike/CBC
Helen Pike/CBC

Around 30 volunteers joined NCC staff to remove trees Saturday, which were then sold at any donation amount out of the Kerry Wood Nature Centre in Red Deer Sunday.

Richard Moje and his son Alon came to pick up a tree. They said they wanted to celebrate the Christmas spirit while helping the environment.

"I feel like it's Christmas already," Alon said.

This is the third time the organization has put on a tree-removal event around the holidays. It was postponed last year because of the pandemic. Organizers believe there will be enough trees to run the event for another two years.

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