Dec. 8 KC WildLands Native Christmas Tree Event Planned in Shawnee Mission Park

Shawnee Mission Park will serve as the metro area's only 2012 site for Kansas City WildLands' annual Red Cedar Christmas Tree Day.

Eastern red cedar trees for use as Christmas trees are being offered during a workday planned from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8 at a new location at The Theatre In The Park, located within Shawnee Mission Park with a separate entrance at 7710 Renner Road in Shawnee.

This will be the twelfth year that KC WildLands has conducted this annual event. Various Johnson County Park & Recreation District sites have hosted the event in the past, including a different area of Shawnee Mission Park in 2008. A minimum donation of $15 is being suggested for the trees, which range in height from three to 10 feet. The proceeds will be used to benefit future conservation efforts.

Those who would like to participate should bring hand saws, rope, sturdy boots, and work gloves. KC WildLands volunteers will be on hand to assist with loading trees. For those who would like to cut their own tree, volunteers will point out trees which can be cut.

Removal of eastern red cedar trees is part of a prairie restoration project at the site. The workday effort is designed to remove a native species considered invasive in prairies and old fields. In time, the cedars' sheer numbers and effects of their shading eliminate sun-loving prairie flora. In the past, naturally-occurring prairie wildfires kept this species in check, but modern fire suppression practices have allowed cedars to spread.

While eastern red cedars were used commonly by early pioneers as Christmas trees, those interested in participating should be aware this variety does not have the typical needle of the Scotch and white pines now predominantly used as Christmas trees. This gives the eastern red cedar a "leafier" appearance.

Shawnee Mission Park is owned and operated by the Johnson County Park and Recreation District, which is a charter member of Kansas City WildLands, a conservation coalition initiated in 2001. For more information on this event, Kansas City WildLands or future restoration workdays, contact Linda Lehrbaum at (816) 561-1061 ext. 116 or linda@bridgingthegap.org, or visit the group's website at www.kcwildlands.org.

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