Christmas Tree Facts

There are approximately 30-35 million Real Christmas Trees sold in the U.S. every year.
  • An estimated 175,000 Real Christmas Trees are sold via e-commerce or catalogue and shipped mail-order.
  • North American Real Christmas Trees are grown in all 50 states and Canada. Eighty-five percent (85%) of artificial trees sold in the U.S. are manufactured in China.
  • Real Trees are a renewable, recyclable resource. Artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and possible metal toxins such as lead.
  • Consumers can locate the nearest recycling program by logging onto or calling 1-800-CLEANUP.
  • For every Real Christmas Tree harvested, up to 3 seedlings are planted in its place the following spring.
  • There are about 21,000 Christmas Tree growers in the U.S., and over 100,000 people employed full or part-time in the industry.
  • It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of average retail sale height (6 - 7 feet) or as little as 4 years, but the average growing time is 7 years.
  • The top Christmas Tree producing states are Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington. (See a complete list of all 50 states ranked by several variables.)
  • The top selling Christmas Trees are: balsam fir, Douglas-fir, Fraser fir, noble fir, Scotch pine, Virginia pine and white pine.
reprinted from the National Christmas Tree Association website at

But aren't fake trees better for the environment?
No. Most artificial trees are manufactured in China and contain PVC (polyvinyl chloride). In fact, artificial Christmas Trees were recently added to the Center for Health, Environment & Justice's list of household products containing PVC. According to the Children's Health Environmental Coalition, the manufacture of PVC creates and disperses dioxins, which include the most toxic man-made chemical known. Released into air or water, dioxins enter the food chain, where they accumulate in fatty tissues of animals and humans, a potential risk for causing cancer, damaging immune functions and impairing children's development. This issue is especially concerning due to China's weak enforcement of environmental regulations. Delta Farm Press recently addressed China's environmental crisis in this article.

Trees for Troops

MFA Members in the News
Nearly 100 fresh-cut Christmas trees donated from several Western Maryland tree farmers and businesses in Garrett County were picked up by the FedEx Corp. earlier this month at the Mountain Top Tree Farm in Oakland.

This is the first year FedEx is providing a truck to pick up the load of donated trees, according to Randy Sisler, organizer of the local effort and manager of Mountain Top Tree Farm. Trees will also be picked up in Frederick on Dec. 10 at the Mehrl Mayne tree farm.

The tree farmers belong to the Maryland Christmas Tree Association, which has joined with a national effort to collect and donate 6- to 7-foot cut Christmas trees for free distribution to U.S. military bases for the holidays.

Maryland tree farmers contributed a variety of tree species, which were all tightly baled for easy shipment.

The National Christmas Tree Association, through its Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, collaborated with FedEx, which donated its services for the fourth annual project.

Trees for Troops is expected to deliver more than 17,000 real Christmas trees from across the country to military families across the United States, as well as to soldiers serving overseas.

"Our military and their families have been providing a real service to our country," said Wayne Thomas, president of the National Christmas Tree Association and a tree farmer in Westminster. "As tree farmers, we want military families to be able to experience a traditional Christmas with a real tree."

Maryland Christmas Tree Association farmers grow trees on approximately 5,280 acres, with some 4 million trees planted and about 370,000 harvested annually. There are nearly 100 tree farms that belong to the association. Christmas trees are 100 percent biodegradable and they can be recycled for a variety of uses after the holidays. Discarded trees are used to stop erosion, provide fish habitat and make mulch for gardens.

For more information, log on to

2008 Farm Bill Update

FYI ~ MFA has several members, including Board member and VP for Gov't Affairs Chris Holmes on the NRCS State Technical Committee. The message and links below lead to changes in the 2008 Farm Bill, several of which highlight increased attention to forests and forestry support.


Notice of 60-day Public Comment Period on Rule Published in Federal Register

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2008—U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Arlen Lancaster today announced the release of the interim final rule for State Technical Committees, which amended requirements regarding the composition and responsibilities of these advisory committees nationwide.

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill) expands agricultural and forestry involvement in the committees, expands the committees’ authority to review local working groups’ efforts to address state program priorities, and requires the Secretary of Agriculture to standardize committee operations nationwide.

The State Technical Committee interim final rule is available for public comment and can be found at USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (USDA-NRCS) Web site,at the official government regulation Web site, and at the Federal Register’s Web site.

Public comments must be submitted by Jan. 26, 2009. These comments will be used to revise the interim final rule, which establishes policy for State Technical Committees. USDA will publish a final rule that will address the public comments.

Each state has an advisory State Technical Committee that is chaired by the USDA-NRCS state conservationist. State Technical Committee members include agricultural producers and other Federal, state, Tribal and non-profit organization professionals that represent various disciplines in the soil, water, wetland, plant, forestry and wildlife sciences. The committees meet regularly and advise the state conservationist and other USDA officials on technical considerations related to implementation of Farm Bill conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, Conservation Reserve Program, Grasslands Reserve Program, and Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program.

The committees also advise the NRCS state conservationists on other technical matters, technical guides, criteria for evaluating projects, cost-share and incentives payment levels, and measures related to achieving a program balance regardless of agricultural sector or farm or ranch size. They can also advise the state conservationists on strategies to reach underserved customers.

The committees also accept recommendations from their subcommittees, including local working groups, as they establish natural resource priorities for the state.

Mailed comments on the interim final rule can be submitted to: Director, Conservation Technical Assistance Programs Division, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Room 6015-S, Washington, D.C. 20250-2890.

Comments can be faxed to (202) 720-2998 and e-mailed to People with disabilities who are interested in submitting comments can contact the USDA Target Center at (202) 720-2600. Comments also can be submitted through the Web site’s public comment feature.

For additional information about State Technical Committees, please visit

The Interim Final Rule can be found at:

NRCS has developed a one page fact sheet that can be viewed at:

General information on the State Technical Committees can be found at:

Foresters hope to stop timber loss in Md.

By Greg Latshaw
Staff Writer -

SALISBURY -- Seeking to end the slow attrition of Maryland's woodlands, state foresters are calling on lawmakers to adopt a no net loss policy by 2010.

A task force of landowners, local government officials and the building community, which includes Wicomico County Councilman Bill McCain, is studying the issue and met Friday in Annapolis.

The goal is to halt a march by the suburbs of Washington, Baltimore and in other parts of the state that is claiming about 8,600 acres of forest each year, said Steven Koehn, director of the Maryland Forest Service. He said it would be the first policy of its kind in the country and is needed because 41 percent of Maryland's land is forested.

But a no net loss law, which lead proponent Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George's County, said he wants passed in the January legislative session, must not disturb the rights of the building industry, Koehn said. A law would also need land to plant new trees, when acres are displaced by new housing developments -- a concern to some in the farming industry.

Another question: What number of forested acres should be used as a baseline for the no net loss policy?

"All the issues, we can overcome," Pinsky said. Action should be taken immediately because "once you lose forests, you generally never recover it," he said.

Trees are an environmental juggernaut when it comes to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, studies show. Their roots absorb polluted water otherwise headed for the bay and stabilize stream banks. Their leaves act as air filters for harmful gases, and trees are natural habitats for wildlife.

In December 2007, the Chesapeake Executive Council, which includes the governors of the six watershed states, agreed to permanently protect 695,000 acres of forest by 2020. Maryland committed to setting aside 96,000 acres by 2012 and 250,000 acres by 2020 -- which is about half of the forest land protected now.

Katie Maloney, executive vice president of the Maryland State Builders Association in Annapolis, said a no net loss policy shouldn't add costs to builders. Her organization would oppose a policy that decreased how many houses could be built in a project, she said.

The Maryland Farm Bureau would favor any policy that protects forest, but a concern is if government incentives would push more trees onto farm land now in production, said Val Connelly, director of government relations.

She used the example of a landowner who leases land to farmers. If a government program would pay the landowner more to plant trees there, that could potentially wipe out farmland.

"Our business is to make sure that people can grow crops in the future in Maryland," she said.

McCain, an outdoorsman who owns a real estate appraisal firm and 400 acres of land on three Lower Shore farms, is the only Eastern Shore representative on the task force.

"The Eastern Shore's concerns and issues are vastly different from those of Montgomery and Prince George's counties," McCain said. "Ours are protecting the forest timber industry and agriculture."

The Eastern Shore's timber industry is unlikely to be affected, McCain said, because their land is classified as forest acres.

Updates from Around the State

The Maryland No-Net-Loss of ForestsTask Force has met several times and has started to draft findings. Another meeting is scheduled for Dec.9th.

A new program that will support urban tree canopy planting has been developed. Governor O’Malley announced the Smart, Green, and Growing Initiative in mid-November, starting with the Marylanders Grow Trees program and website .

The Governor also will be announcing the new GreenPrint program on December 3rd that will identify priorities for land conservation, with its own website. The priorities for the Program Open Space targeting include four layers, one of which is the forests important for water quality developed for the Chesapeake Bay Forest Conservation Directive.

Two other new websites that may be good resources for forest conservation and urban tree canopy efforts are below:

  • The Conservation Fund has developed a website to exchange information on Green Infrastructure planning and projects around the country.
  • The Center for Watershed Protection has developed a website as a central point for resources for forest-friendly development and using trees and forests to improve watershed functions like managing stormwater.

General Forestry Course

Get Ready for the Spring Semester of
the General Forestry Course

This course is designed for individuals wishing to increase their understanding of forests and forest management. Specifically, the course targets Maryland forest landowners and other citizens with an interest in the principles and practices of forestry.

The University of Maryland Cooperative Extension is announcing the opening for the spring 2009 semester of the General Forestry Course. The course begins February 1 and runs until May 20, 2009. Registration opens January 2. There are no formal classes and you work from the comfort of your home using your own woodlot, a friend's or a public forest.

The course is available as both a paper version and a web-based version. You will learn how to protect your trees from insects and diseases; step-by-step procedures walk you through a forest inventory and stand analysis; details of the forestry business are presented, and much more. Ultimately, the course exercises help you develop the framework for a forest management plan. The course has changed enrollees perspective towards forests and forest management, encouraged family discussions, and even save some folks thousands of dollars. The cost is $300.00. Included are supplemental readings (A Sand County Almanac, The Woodland Steward, American Forests: A History of Resiliency and Recovery, and a small pamphlet entitled What Tree Is That?). A certificate of completion is awarded when all assignments are completed.

Both the online version and the paper version of the course will be offered in the Spring 2009 Semester (February 1 to May 20, 2009).

There are two methods of learning available: the web-based or online version, and the original paper version. This web site discusses the online version of the course. To learn about the paper version, click General Forestry Course--Paper Version.

Note: Registration for The General Forestry Course opens January 2 for the spring semester and August 1 for the fall semester. Enrollment is based on a first-come, first-served basis. If the class is full and you are unable to enroll, you will be placed on a waiting list.

Sample Course Pages

Click on the images below for a sample of what the General Forestry Course has to offer.

Sample Lesson Sample Lesson

For more information, contact Nancy Stewart or 410/827-8056, ext. 112