If you’re up for chopping down your own Christmas tree, you can have it for free.
That’s part of the incentive for families to sign up and help the Nature Conservancy of Canada combat invasive spruce trees near Saskatoon this weekend.
The trees aren’t native to the area, far south in the Aspen Parkland ecoregion, and their presence could actually damage the habitat for other plants and animals.
“When you start putting in different plants or trees, then you get different birds that spend time there and perch there, and they push out the original species,” said Matthew Braun, manager of conservation science and planning for NCC in Saskatchewan.
The tree harvest is set to take place Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. at the conservancy’s Messier property, about a 40 minute drive from Saskatoon.
The site provides habitat for white-tailed and mule deer, ruffed and sharptailed grouse and coyotes, as well as nesting and migratory passerine birds and waterfowl.
Anyone interested in volunteering to remove a tree is asked to sign up online ahead of time. They will receive specific directions to the property and are guaranteed a tree.
While there’s between 20 to 25 trees available, Braun said there’s one that stands out.
“I’ve got the quintessential Charlie Brown tree picked out for one lucky person who really wants it,” he laughed. “It’s a lonely little guy, that’s just so out of place and does not want to be there.”
Volunteers will need to bring their own handsaw – no chainsaws – for the event.
As of Friday morning, there was still room to register.
The conservancy owns a number of properties across the province, a total of 150,000 acres, with the goal being to protect important natural areas and the species they sustain.
Braun noted there will also be future opportunities for people to help plant spruce trees where they’re wanted in northern Saskatchewan.