Red cedars cut for Christmas trees benefit conservation

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Kansas City
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Kansas City, Mo. – A native Missouri evergreen serving as a Christmas tree is quite traditional, the old time way, but one with a modern benefit. In the Kansas City area, a bi-state partnership called Kansas City Wildlands will host its 16th annual Red Cedar Christmas Tree Event 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at Mildale Farm, a Johnson County Parks and Recreation District site at 35250 W. 199th St., Edgerton, Kan. The Missouri Department of Conservation is a Wildlands partner because the program utilizes volunteers and donations to protect high-quality natural areas on public lands in the metro area.

Wildlands suggests a donation of $15 per tree. The money is used to fund prairie and forest restoration projects. For example, MDC and Wildlands volunteers have partnered for prairie restoration efforts at Jerry Smith Farm and removal of invasive bush honeysuckle at Hidden Valley Park. Both are Kansas City parks with fragments of unique ecosystems. The forest shading Hidden Valley’s deep valleys in loess soil hills holds multiple fern species including some rarities. But volunteer projects, such as clearing invasive honeysuckle, are needed to maintain forest health. Hikers and birders who enjoy nature benefit.

Cedar trees are fragrant and nicely reflective of lights and ornaments. They are a native tree that provides shelter and food for wildlife. But they are also an aggressive invader that can crowd out desirable native plants in prairies, glades and open woodlands. Past Wildlands tree cutting events have helped restore natural grasslands and woodlands.

Volunteers with Wildlands can help visitors move trees or secure them to vehicles. Hay wagon rides, a bonfire, hot cider and cookies will be available. Patrons are asked to bring a handsaw (no chainsaws or axes) and rope to secure the tree to the vehicle.

For more information, contact Linda Lehrbaum at 816-561-1061, ext. 116, or Kansas City Wildlands is a program of Bridging the Gap, a non-profit devoted to environmental education and volunteer service.