SWCD and HCHS team up to repurpose trees

SWCD and HCHS team up to repurpose trees

Image Credit: Dave Mast

Two Holmes County entities teamed up to create something beautiful and then something purposeful this holiday season.

The Holmes County Historical Society and Holmes County Soil & Water Conservation District united to recycle in the most beautiful way possible this holiday season.

In creating a Christmas wonderland outside of the Victorian House, the historical society placed 15 live Christmas trees in the front yard of the house, surrounding an old sleigh, with thousands of white lights for a serene holiday picture.

However, that won’t be the lone purpose of the pine trees.

A quick visit from Karen Gotter, watershed coordinator with the Holmes Soil & Water Conservation District, invited the historical society to recycle their trees with a purpose once the holiday season is over.

A few years ago, the Holmes Soil & Water Conservation District started a tree-recycling program that has helped create natural habitat for animals during the winter months. The SWCD collects live cut Christmas trees after the holidays and repurposes them into brush piles in strategic places with the help of kids from Webelos Pack #357.

The former Holmes County landfill is one of the main resting spots for the repurposed trees, providing cover and a potential home in the large open spaces that don’t provide much cover for the smaller birds and wildlife.

Another repurposing opportunity for the trees is in SWCD’s Rush Run stream stabilization project by County Road 1, where SWCD has already placed unsold Christmas trees from Lowe’s and Tractor Supply.

The 15 trees from the historical society will add to that collection, and Gotter was excited to team up with a local entity to put the trees to good use.

“We’ve had a great partnership with some different organizations, and this was an exciting opportunity for us to connect with the Holmes County Historical Society to make a conservation impact,” Gotter said. “These trees will be stockpiled at the former landfill until the conditions are right in mid-to-late January or early February to partner with the Scout troop to build brush piles. The Rush Run project is also huge for us because keeping debris in streams is important if you do it the right way.”

She said the trees create a winter habitat for fish, turtles, salamander and other wildlife while also creating a breeding ground for minnows.

“It is recycling at its finest,” Gotter said.

She said while there is an urge to use an artificial tree for Christmas, using live trees and repurposing them is a better and more efficient way to celebrate Christmas with an eye toward conservation.

“We like the community aspect of this program and love teaming up with local organizations like the historical society,” Gotter said. “It’s a neat way to team up among the community for a greater purpose.”

Gotter said while their tree-collection program is one way to repurpose live Christmas trees, should a family desire to do the same at their home, they can easily improve wildlife habitat on their own property by finding a comfortable spot for their tree in their own back yard.

Anyone wishing to drop their tree off may do so at the SWCD building at 62 W. Clinton St. in Millersburg. They also have drop spots at Killbuck Park, and they hope to establish other sites at the Holmes County Home and in Lake Buckhorn and Lakeville.

To find a tree drop spot near you, log on to the SWCD website at www.holmesswcd.com.

Gotter said should someone find challenges to bringing in a tree or if there is a church or organization that has multiple trees, they can call SWCD at 330-674-2811 and they may be able to come pick up a tree.