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"O Christmas Tree" – Real Trees Back in Style in MD?

December 1, 2011

STREET, Md. - 'Tis the season to decide on a Christmas tree in Maryland, and those in the real tree industry report a big jump in business this year. Wilma Muir is president of the Maryland Christmas Tree Association and owns Deer Creek Valley Tree Farm near the rural community of Street. She credits awareness about the environmental benefits of real trees as one reason customers were lined up to buy her trees last weekend.

"It's getting the family outdoors, and it's about making memories. Kids get a big kick out of cutting a tree, not just rushing to the mall and buying a tree that looks like every other tree."

She says it's also about buying local. Most artificial trees are imported from China.

Bill Ulfelder, director of The Nature Conservancy, is a proponent of using natural Christmas trees because they capture climate-change pollution, plus, they can be recycled at the end of the season. While artificial trees can be used year after year, he says they have a limited lifespan.

"Folks use an artificial tree for only about five or six years. So they're energy-intensive to produce, energy-intensive to ship - and then it just sits there in the landfill and doesn't biodegrade."

More than 100 Christmas tree farms exist in Maryland, and the main species they sell are Scotch pine, white pine, blue spruce, Douglas fir and Fraser fir.

Muir says white pine is their most popular tree.

"They want those long, soft needles, even though they don't support heavy ornaments. They tell us they just love the way the lights sparkle when they get them nestled inside the branches."

The Maryland Department of Agriculture will feature a 19-foot white pine from Wilma Muir's farm this year.

Details about Muir's farm are available at www.home.iximd.com. Information about the Maryland Christmas tree industry is at www.MarylandChristmasTrees.org.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD