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Christmas trees offered to get rid of invasive spruce trees in 2 provinces

EDMONTON — Christmas trees are available for free in Saskatchewan or by donation in Alberta this weekend — and it's for a good cause.
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EDMONTON — Christmas trees are available for free in Saskatchewan or by donation in Alberta this weekend — and it's for a good cause.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is hosting tree harvesting events on Saturday in central Alberta and near Saskatoon in an attempt to get rid of invasive spruce trees.

In Saskatchewan, the trees aren't native to the Saskatoon area and their presence could actually damage the habitat for other plants and animals.

"We purchased this land a few years ago now," said Matthew Braun, manager of conservation science and planning with the organization in Saskatchewan. "We develop a management plan for each property that is specific to the area that it's in."

Anyone can go and cut down a free "Charlie Brown" trees at a property near Saskatoon that is owned by the conservancy.

"Because these are not growing where you would normally expect them to grow, they are not doing great," he said. "Some of them look great and some look kind of sad and lonely, but it will spruce up somebody's room."

The Alberta harvest is already complete so people are invited to a property in the Red Deer River area to pick up a Colorado blue spruce tree. A limited number of pre-cut trees are available by donation.

The tree harvest comes as holiday shoppers face higher costs for natural Christmas trees at retail outlets due to a shortage south of the border and an increased demand for real Christmas trees.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the trees were free in Alberta.