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DEP spokesman says annual tree collection ‘not a necessary risk’ this year

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Plans for the Christmas tree collections organized each year by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection won’t be happening this year.

“We decided to cancel it this year because of the pandemic. We didn’t feel like it was a necessary risk to take at this time,” said DEP Spokesman Terry Fletcher.

The annual tree collection is held after Christmas at the Capitol Market in Charleston and in 2019 the first sponsored collection was held in the Bridgeport area. Fletcher said both events are cancelled this year. The agency suggested a few ways to handle recycling of the tree on your own.

“If they have a pond or something in their back yard or neighborhood, they could cut it into pieces and sink it in the pond. You could use the branches for compost piles or mulch or just set it up in your backyard and use it for a wildlife refuge,” he said.

Fletcher added the easier thing is to undecorate and toss it into the woods near your home and let nature take its course.

The lack of the collection will make for a lean year for Division of Natural Resources personnel who use the annual collections to refurbish artificial fish habitat in many of the state’s lakes. According to Fletcher they were able to get some trees leftover on tree lots at places like Lowes to accommodate some of the work, but he added the numbers will be drastically lower in 2021 with the lack of the private tree collections.