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Recycled Christmas trees to refresh zoo habitats, local trails

Posted at 12:15 PM, Dec 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-27 14:15:11-05

BILLINGS — For those who are ready to pack up Christmas as soon as it's over, including the tree, there's a local group more than happy to take it off your hands.

The Yellowstone County Christmas Tree Recycling program gives new life to old Christmas trees.

"We have nine different drop off locations for people to bring their live, cut Christmas trees. We want to be ready for those people who are ready to move on quickly," Bright n' Beautiful Executive Director Joanie Tooley said.

Trees need to be without a bag, and without decorations.

They are then taken to Rocky Mountain Compost.

"They will grind them up into mulch and natural material for a number of purposes," Tooley said.

The mulch is used at the Montana Audubon Center, and ZooMontana, and other spaces, to refresh trails and animal enclosures.

"They use the trees for bedding for the animals, and for ways to sort of dress up the nesting areas for birds and animals there at the zoo, especially for the river otters, which I love," Tooley said.

Tree drop-off locations in Billings include:

Zoo Montana
Schnitzer Steel
Hanser's Automotive
Rocky Mountain Compost
Billings Landfill.

"I think every year it's a record breaker. They processed 32.5 tons of Christmas trees in 2020," Tooley said.

There are also a few places just out of town:

Thompson Park in Laurel
Lockwood Middle School
Shepherd High School
Huntley United Methodist Church.

"It's nice to kind of be able to extend the giving season. It sounds a little corny, but that's really what it is," Tooley said.

The Recycling program kicked off Saturday, December 26th, and runs all the way through Thursday, January 21st.

"You're taking something that was really beautiful, and brought you joy. You're saying thank you to your tree, and goodbye, and now it will have a new life, doing something good for the birds and the animals in our community," Tooley said.