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December 7 Native Christmas Tree Event Planned at Ernie Miller Park
POSTED: 11/21/2002
Eastern red cedar trees for use as Christmas trees are being offered again this year during a Kansas City WildLands workday at Ernie Miller Park between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Dec. 7.

During a similar event in 2001 more than 300 trees ranging from three to 10 feet in height were claimed by between 550 and 600 people from throughout the metropolitan area.

This year's workday will be somewhat different from the 2001 event in order to alleviate congestion at the park's entrance at 909 N. Kansas 7 Highway, Olathe. This year, Westar Energy has volunteered to provide equipment for and assist with the actual harvest of the trees. KC WildLands volunteers will take the trees to the park's front entrance where they can be selected by participants and loaded with the help of the volunteers. This year, a donation of $5 per tree is suggested, with the proceeds benefitting future conservation efforts.

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.

For more information, contact Superintendent of Park Safety and Interpretation Mike Ray at (913) 438-7275 or Ernie Miller Park Supervisor Leon Gordon at (913) 764-7759.

Ernie Miller 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 Kansas City WildLands or future workdays, contact Linda Lehrbaum at (816) 561-1087 ext. 116 or visit the group's website at

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