Forest for the trees

Paul Kelly of Beaufort cruises past the Christmas Tree collection site Thursday in the far parking lot of the Visitors Center at Fort Macon State Park in Atlantic Beach. (Dylan Ray photo)

atlantic beach — There’s a growing pile of natural Christmas greenery at the Fort Macon State Park Visitor Center’s parking lot as visitors drop their undecorated trees off.

The N.C. State Parks Service at Fort Macon collects natural Christmas trees each year, using them to build up the dunes on the beaches at the park.

Visitors may drop off trees at the visitor center park during regular park visiting hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, through Friday, Jan. 31.

Fort Macon Superintendent Randy Newman said as of Thursday, park staff have received about 300 trees.

“There are visitors bringing them in every day,” he said. “Most people start taking them down New Year’s Day.”

Signs along the road in the park guide visitors bringing trees to drop off. Thursday, Michael Forbes of Morehead City, along with his 5-year-old daughter Amelia, was at the park, dropping off one of their family’s trees.

“It’s one way to give back,” Mr. Forbes said.

Mr. Newman asks that visitors bringing trees make sure to remove all lights, decorations and tinsel from the trees to prevent littering. He said Fort Macon receives about 1,500 trees each year.

“We should get about that many,” he said. “Last year, we didn’t have as many due to so many people being displaced by Hurricane Florence, but this year more people were back in their homes.”

Mr. Newman said this year park staff is focusing on building the dunes back up near Beaufort Inlet.

“That section of the dunes got washed out badly (during Florence) due to three days of northerly wind,” he said.

Contact Mike Shutak at 252-726-7081, ext. 206; email; or follow on Twitter @mikeccnt.

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