Your Christmas tree may not look cheery and bright without the tinsel and lights, but to an animal, a former Christmas tree can be a life saver.
That's why Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials are reminding residents that live-cut trees can find a new life after the holidays. Namely, trees can be recycled into mulch, compost, or even wildlife habitat.
"Winter is a tough time for wildlife," said Tim Plageman, wildlife management supervisor for the ODNR's Division of Wildlife. "If you don't want to turn it into wood chips and you don't want to burn it, this is another way to recycle them."
Mr. Plageman said he has used his live-cut trees to create shelter for animals by piling them along the edge of his fields. Inside the nooks and crannies of the branches, deer and small creatures can be found throughout the winter taking shelter from the bone-chilling winds, he said.
And for those who are bird lovers, Mr. Plageman suggested securing a Christmas tree onto a post next to a bird feeder. This will give the birds a place to escape the elements while feeding during the winter months.
"Think about when you go inside an evergreen grove, how much warmer it is in there because the trees are blocking the wind," Mr. Plageman said. "It's the same idea. One little tree is not going to make a big difference but it will overall help that bird survive the winter."
And so as not to forget animals of the finned variety, Mr. Plageman has a suggestion for how to enhance fish habitats as well. Those with private ponds can anchor their trees and then put them on the ice. When the spring thaw comes, the tree will sink to the bottom, creating hiding places for smaller fish and a place for fish to lay their eggs, he said.
But none of these plans will work if residents forget to take tinsel, ornaments, or lights off their trees.
"You've got to undecorate your tree. Spend some time and get that stuff off," he said.
And keep in mind, Mr. Plageman said, that proper permission is required before one discards trees on public or private land or in ponds. Discarding trees without permission could result in a litter violation.
Those looking for less involved ways to recycle their Christmas trees can do so by turning them into mulch. According to Keep Toledo/Lucas County Beautiful, Inc., curbside recycling is being offered in several places, while other communities are asking residents to bring trees to drop-off centers.
The trees will be shredded and recycled as mulch.
Contact Erica Blake at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6076.