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Christmas trees to go

Lauren McKeon and Andrew Livingstone
Northern News Services
Published Friday, December 19, 2008

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - The Lacey family doesn't like artificial Christmas trees. If they're going to celebrate Christmas, it's got to be a "roadkill tree."

Fifteen years ago, the family was driving down Vee Lake road when they spotted their first. It was the perfect tree on the side of the road.

"I went out with the hatchet and was about to cut it down and it just came right out of the snow. Someone had just stuck it in the snow," said Steve Lacey, father of the family.

And so began the "roadkill" nickname given by the Laceys to describe someone else's discarded Christmas tree.

Sometimes trees are to be found "in the ditch." Sometimes tree-searchers cut down an entire tree or "cut part of it and left the rest lying there," said Lacey.

"We always find some tree someone has cut down and left," he said.

"We always wonder how people can do that - cut down a tree and just throw it away. We're just astonished people do that. We don't understand the mentality for cutting down a tree and throwing it away," he said.

Lacey recommends others start rescuing discarded Christmas trees, adding he doesn't know of any other families who do. His own family could not find anything at all on just two occasions, forcing them to buy a real tree from a store instead.

"We've had some real Charlie Brown trees but for the most part they've been great trees," he said.

"Plus, you're picking up after some other idiot who has been really thoughtless or inconsiderate. Plus, it's fun to go out with the family to do something like this," said Lacey.

Besides being an "idiot," it's likely those who have tossed their trees to the side of the road were breaking the law in the first place.

"If you're cutting (a tree) down for Christmas it's free, but you need to go and check because you can be charged," said Judy McLinton, a spokesperson for Environment and Natural Resources.

Anyone looking to chop down their own Christmas tree must get a permit from the North Slave regional office in Yellowknife, she explained. Permits are free.

When the permit is issued, Christmas tree-choppers are directed to one of two designated areas.

Tree-cutters, she added, "can't be going onto Tlicho land if they're going down the highway. They need permission from the Tlicho government if they're going there."

McLinton advised anyone looking for further information on the ins and outs of holiday tree-chopping "go down and get yourself a permit."