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Postcard from the Past: Yuletide Tree Cutting, Need Not be Wasted

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

This is the message a headline in the Dec. 13, 1925 issue of The Wyoming Eagle notes, supported by the following article:

With the coming of the Yuletide season comes also the “evergreen” question of the right or wrong of Christmas tree cutting. 

According to Uncle Sam’s foresters, the cutting of Christmas trees may be a positive benefit to the forest. Far from forbidding the practice, they believe the provision of this central symbol of the child’s Christmas should be encouraged under proper regulation.

“Conservation is a wise use,” said District Forester C.M. Granger, in commenting on this question. “Forest management grows successive crops of trees on the same land. If possible, these tree crops should be used and not allowed to grow old, die and rot.”

One of the most important requirements of forestry is the practice known as “improved thinning,” according to Granger. 

Nature starts six or eight trees in the forest for every one that survives. It is held to be good practice to cut out the inferior seedlings from thickets, to give the hardier trees a chance. For Christmas trees of average size it is well not to thin to a greater distance than eight feet between trees.

“Trees cut for improvement thinning are seldom symmetrical unless only the top of the tree is used,” said Granger. 

“It is the demand for symmetrical trees which causes much of the abuse. Only the best of trees in open stands or the tops of 20- or 30-year-old trees are cut. If we could only popularize the slightly misshapen Christmas tree and create a demand for trees cut under proper forestry methods, it would do much to correct this abuse,” he added.

The U.S. Forest Service believes by proper cutting, a tree could be provided for every family in America, without harming the future forest crop.

An editorial in the Dec. 16, 1921 issue of  The Wyoming State Journal of Lander, offered a different view. The story is entitled Cutting Christmas Trees and is as follows:

How long does it take to grow a Christmas tree? Ten years, yes, and usually in the mountain regions of the West, it takes 25 years. 

The state of Wyoming annually requires some 40,000 Christmas trees, South Dakota 25,000, and in the whole U.S., nearly 15 to 20 million young trees are cut each year at the yule tide. 

Is it any wonder then the promiscuous and destructive cutting of the young forests of the country is a source of alarm to many conservative citizens? This is not without cause, for in the past, these trees have been cut from privately-owned lands and on public domain without concern for the future of the forest stands.

Thousands of young trees are taken out of the forests annually into other parts of the state or neighboring states not fortunate in having forests of their own, for the Christmas festivities. These trees coming almost entirely from privately-owned lands have been cut no doubt in most cases without regard to the future of the forest stands and under the most destructive methods.

Each owner of private forest lands should feel obligated to the future of the nation and to himself to cut his trees wisely and conservatively.

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