As the holidays begin to wrap up and another year begins, folks across New Jersey will soon deal with the daunting task of taking down the holiday decorations and tossing out the live (most likely dying or dead) Christmas tree.

But don’t throw the tree on the curb or in a dumpster.

There is an opportunity for Christmas trees to keep on giving, even after the holidays.

The Jersey Shore beaches, shorelines, and marshes are moving around, where the challenge of erosion can threaten houses, and nature preserves said Tim Dillingham, executive director of The American Littoral Society, a coastal conservation organization.

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He said Christmas trees can be recycled into living shorelines and coastal protection.

Christmas trees recycled (Photo Credit: American Littoral Society)
Christmas trees recycled (Photo Credit: American Littoral Society)
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“We use the trees in Point Pleasant on a project to protect wildlife refuges there by putting the trees in the water so they act as barriers to waves and erosion, and help protect the natural areas,” Dillingham said.

The trees are put into cribs, called brush box barriers, and stacked up on their sides, he explained. By doing this, the trees create a barrier to waves that are eroding the shoreline.

The American Littoral Society has a partnership with the Point Pleasant Public Works Department and Lacey Township as well, to bring recycled trees to the site.

The staff and volunteers at the Littoral Society then put the trees in the water, Dillingham said.

Besides protecting the shoreline, he says Friends of Island Beach State Park and the Beach Buggy Association of New Jersey often used the trees to protect the dunes on the beaches.

Christmas trees recycled (Photo Credit: American Littoral Society)
Christmas trees recycled (Photo Credit: American Littoral Society)
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“I think trees are often recycled and composted. It’s good vegetative matter. Anything but sending them to the landfills I think is the way to go,” Dillingham said.

Last year, due to COVID-19, only about 400 Christmas trees were donated to the American Littoral Society, he said. But, Lacey Township had some brush and vegetation that the society could use. All of this was put into place with the trees to protect the Slade Dale Nature Sanctuary in Point Pleasant.

In a normal year, the Littoral Society is given anywhere between 1,400 and a couple of thousand Christmas trees to be used to protect the Jersey coastline.

Anyone who lives in Point Pleasant can just leave their Christmas trees at the curb at the Point Pleasant DPW will come pick them up, Dillingham said.

Christmas trees recycled (Photo Credit: American Littoral Society)
Christmas trees recycled (Photo Credit: American Littoral Society)
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However, non-residents should go to the Littoral Society website, check out the pickup sites, and take advantage of one of them. Usually, a pickup site is a local school or church.

Dillingham said the project will be worked on through the spring so whenever people are done with their Christmas trees, just donate them and they will be used to protect the Jersey shoreline, for sure.

The shoreline is a wonderful place that New Jerseyans love. But Dillingham said it needs to be cared for every day because climate change is eating away at the edges.
So, these kinds of restoration projects are great ways for the community to get involved and take care of a place we all respect, enjoy, and love.

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