Looking to Recycle Your Christmas Tree? Alabama's Beaches Will Take Them

The trees are used to create areas of new dune growth along the coast. 

Once you're ready to un-deck your halls, it doesn't mean your Christmas tree's life has to come to an end. If you've got an artificial fir, you'll probably pack it away until next year. But for those with live trees, a little extra effort can provide positive effects to one of the South's greatest natural treasures for years to come.

For almost 40 years, Gulf State Park on Alabama's Gulf Coast has hosted a Christmas tree recycling program that aids dune restoration. Donated live trees are placed along the edges of dunes in groups of three, creating a "U" shape. When wind carries sand across the beach, the sand catches in the trees, building up over time and creating a new area of dune growth. The following spring, park staff and local volunteers plant native dune plants around the Christmas trees to further restore the natural habitat.

The Important Role of Dunes

Coastal dunes play an essential role in protecting beach communities from damaging storms and hurricanes each year. The hills of sand and shrubs act as a barrier protecting inland areas from threatening wind and water. In addition, dunes serve as a natural habitat for several species of animals—including beach mice, piping plovers, and leatherback sea turtles—and plants that are essential to the ecosystem's survival and health.

Christmas Trees in Dunes
Courtesy of Gulf State Park

Make a Winter Getaway

Already thinking about a winter getaway? Now you have an excuse to head to the beach. The dunes are depending on you, after all. Gulf State Park is collecting trees at Gulf State Park Beach Pavilion on the east side of the pavilion parking lot from now through the end of January. Just be sure to remove all ornaments, lights, tinsel, and other decorations before dropping your Tannenbaum off.

Stay in brand new accommodations at The Lodge at Gulf State Park, or take it easy in The Lakeside Cabins or Eagle Cottages. Then enjoy 2 miles of beaches, hiking, biking, paddling, and reveling in nature.

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