Christmas trees for conservation CV event (Photo by NCC)

Christmas trees for conservation CV event (Photo by NCC)

Christmas trees for conservation

Volunteer with tree at Christmas trees for conservation CV event (Photo by NCC)

Volunteer with tree at Christmas trees for conservation CV event (Photo by NCC)

December 7 was a chilly winter day, but the holiday spirit was in the air when 14 Conservation Volunteers gathered at the Haynes property to cut down some Christmas trees.

The Haynes property is located in the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) Red Deer River natural area. When NCC acquired this property in 2011, it also inherited a tree farm full of white and blue spruce. While white spruce is native to the area, Colorado blue spruce is not. In fact, nowhere in Canada is this tree native, so NCC targeted them for removal.

Instead of cutting down all the blue spruce trees at once, NCC plans to gradually remove the trees over the next decade to give native species more room to grow and to create a more natural, staggered forest than the evenly spaced rows of the tree farm. Once all of the blue spruce have been removed from this conservation site, NCC plans to diversify the forest by planting native shrubs, aspen and balsam poplar trees.

Holiday trees to take home (Photo by NCC)

Holiday trees to take home (Photo by NCC)

Despite a fair forecast, volunteers arrived at the property on a colder-and-snowier-than-expected morning. The hearty group, however, could not be deterred. After a hike onto the property, the determined group chopped down more than 30 trees, some of which were taken home by volunteers that day. The remainder of the trees were given away to community members the following day at a holiday open house at Glenellen Community Centre.

This is the third year that NCC has hosted a tree removal event followed by a community open house. This year, more than 30 people stopped by the open house to enjoy some festive treats, kids’ crafts and an NCC holiday-themed photo booth.

NCC photo booth at Red Deer open house (Photo by NCC)

NCC photo booth at Red Deer open house (Photo by NCC)

“I love this event and am always surprised by the beauty of the landscape in the Red Deer River natural area,” said Keltie Manolakas, NCC’s regional manager of engagement. “It’s a great opportunity for us to get to know our rural neighbours better — answering questions and providing insight into the work NCC does in this area and across Alberta.”

NCC has been actively working in the Red Deer River natural area for more than a decade. To date, we have helped conserve 9,700 acres (3,900 hectares) here.

This region was selected for conservation because it contains the highest density of intact parkland in central Alberta.

This event was sponsored by Repsol, who has been a long-time supporter of NCC’s work in the Red Deer region.

Supporter Spotlight

Atlantic puffins (Photo by Bill Caulfield-Browne)