A few final thoughts on Christmas trees

Editor's Column

By Don Richeson / Staff

CASHIERS-GLENVILLE -- I read a report last week on the NPR website about two towns duking it out over who should lay claim to the “Christmas Tree Capital of the World” title. Astonishingly, neither town is even in western North Carolina, which everyone knows grows the best Christmas trees around.

The foes in the holiday-spirited naming battle are at opposite sides of the U.S. -- Indiana, Pennsylvania and Estacada, Oregon. Each reportedly has a sign up as you enter its community saying “Christmas Tree Capital of the World” or “Christmas Tree Capital.”

“Pshaw,” I say.

I am compelled to take a stand and call these pretenders out. Everyone in southern Jackson County knows that Glenville is the real Christmas Tree Capital of the World. Maybe to avoid getting directly into fray with the Keystone and Beaver state towns, Glenville could just rise above the petty feud and declare itself “Christmas Tree Capital of the Universe” and post a sign saying such near its current “GLENVILLE” signs on N.C. Highway 107.

Though the U.S. Department of Agriculture says Oregon is the top Christmas tree producing state (followed by North Carolina and then Michigan), Oregon’s main Yule tree is the Douglas fir, a western state conifer -- pretty, yes, but not the prettiest. Again, more preaching to the choir here, but Glenville’s main Christmas tree is the Fraser fir, which is often billed as the Cadillac of Christmas Trees. Fraser firs are native to the southern Appalachians -- including Glenville of course -- and don’t even grow naturally in Oregon, Michigan or Pennsylvania. Douglas firs are more the western states’ “Nice Chevy of Christmas Trees.”

So, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Estacada, Oregon, how the heck can you claim to be the Christmas Tree Capital if you aren’t even in an area where the Cadillac of Christmas Trees naturally grow?

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Speaking of Christmas trees, most of you reading this will do so around New Year’s Day, the time when most folks take down their Christmas trees and wonder what to do with them. (I’m consciously snubbing southern Jackson County’s artificial tree minority here -- y’all just pack them up to reuse next year.) If you are a southern Jackson County resident, you can leave your Christmas tree off for free at the county’s Cashiers Staffed Recycling Center at 4560 N.C. Highway 107 South, according to Jackson County Public Works Director Chad Parker. However, Parker said, “We cannot take them at Glenville SRC (Staffed Recycling Center).” The Cashiers center’s winter hours are 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. The center is always closed on major holidays like New Year’s Day. Parker recommends you first remove as much tinsel and similar adornments as you can.

Where do they end up ultimately? “They go into our brush pile in Sylva and are ground up into mulch. … We sell mulch at the Sylva Transfer Station for $10 per loader bucket scoop,” Parker said. So, interestingly, your Christmas tree and those of your neighbors find new life as a landscape helper. The Sylva Transfer Station is at 1172 Mineral Springs Drive. Its hours are 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7 a.m.-noon Saturday. If you need more information, call 828-586-2437.

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In addition to helping the county make mulch, there are other uses for old Christmas trees. Firewood, bird feeders, bonfires and artwork come to mind.

In the past, for example, some have been strategically sunk into Lake Glenville to use as fish attractors. That seems like a great new life for an old Christmas tree -- still spreading joy by working to improve angling on our beautiful alpine lake. However, the lake could have reached the saturation point on fish attractors. The fish species that inhabit the lake -- bass, catfish, walleye, crappie, bluegills and rainbow trout -- may now be jaded and no longer attracted by additional attractors. “Friends of Lake Glenville has no plan to recycle Christmas trees as fish attractors, although I know that some people may do it on their own,” FLG spokesman Richard Becherer said last week.

(Don Richeson is editor of the Crossroads Chronicle. He lives in southern Jackson County. His email address is editor@CrossroadsChronicle.com.)

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