It is always sad as the holidays come to a close to have to dispose of the tree that was once so brightly decorated. Many trees end up in the yard or elsewhere which can create potential fire hazards, especially when they are tossed out in parks or wilderness areas. According to Susan McKelvey in the NFPA TODAY blog post, "Dispose of your Christmas Tree promptly, nearly 40 percent of Christmas Tree home fires occur in January," it is important to remove the tree soon.
According to an article in the Reno Gazette Journal, which was also featured in USA Today,“Goats will help you recycle your Christmas tree” ! The article described one community in Washoe Valley that has come up with a unique solution spearheaded by Vince Thomas, a volunteer firefighter with the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District. His main concern with these unwanted trees was that they seemed to be dumped quite frequently in natural areas. According to the article, he said, “I’ve seen them everywhere; all you have to do is get off the beaten path a ways, and you’ll see trees all over. It was amazing to me to see how many Christmas trees people would toss out there.”
Thomas and his 40 goats created an alternative solution to this local problem. They have created a Christmas tree disposal program which features the voracious appetite of these hungry little goats. The trees are taken to the Truckee Meadows fire station which has a lot more space for the goats to work their magic. They give the goats the trees to eat as long as there is no residual tinsel, ornaments or other items and the goats make quick work of eating the pine needles and leaving only the skeleton of the tree which is easier to dispose of.
Goats eating pine needles is a little unusual but Thomas said, “I did a lot of research on that, and its ok for the goats……for goats, it’s a natural dewormer, and pine is very high in vitamin C so it is healthy for them. This is a great “out of the box”, solution to a seasonal fire hazard. For more sucess stories about how communities have creatively mitigated the wildfire threat in their communities, visit the Firewise Communities/USA® website.
The top image is from Fox News. The lower picture of the goats eating the tree is from Marcella Corona with the Reno Gazette Journal.