Father Xmas, meet Mother Nature ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

December 21, 1992

The problem with live Christmas trees is that they last a short time before beginning to dry and shed their needles. Artificial trees alleviate this problem, but with a considerable aesthetic loss. How can a plastic tree bring the real feeling of Christmas when it lacks the genuine pine fragrance that mixes so nicely with the smell of cookies, turkey or ham?

The state Department of Natural Resources' Urban Forestry and Reforestation Division has come up with an idea that allows Anne Arundel County residents to combine their holiday spirit with some community spirit. It is inviting residents who buy a live, balled tree to consider donating it after Christmas to be replanted at the Aris T. Allen Boulevard cloverleaf near Parole.

"It's twice as expensive for the state to do this than a homeowner doing it and donating trees," forestry section chief Gene Piotrowski said.

"This is the ultimate in recycling a Christmas tree," commented Terry Galloway, who coordinates the volunteer effort. "It gives you happiness. It will give others happiness."

Those considering participating in this pilot program should call 974-3776 during office hours to get some tips on selecting a suitable tree and maintaining it for replanting. The same number also coordinates the replanting of dropped-off trees, which will be done on Dec. 28.

This program is essentially for those county residents who are content with having a real tree in their homes for no longer than seven days. Any live tree is likely to be too dry for replanting much after that. If you're buying a balled tree for Christmas, we urge you to consider this idea.

So far, Ms. Galloway reports having received "lots of calls" about the pilot program. A dozen families have already promised to participate.

Recycling of fresh-cut trees into mulch after Christmas has increased in popularity during the past few years. It is an environmentally sensitive way to dispose of a central element of holiday celebrations and provide new vitality to other growing things. Buying a Christmas tree to be replanted takes the recycling concept a step farther, allowing the family to follow the development of the tree that once graced its living room. It's a way to spread your family's holiday spirit to Mother Nature.

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