Several area organizations want to recycle your Christmas tree.

Lisa Rider, deputy director of Onslow County Solid Waste & Landfill says the county has a longstanding tradition of accepting Christmas trees after the holidays for various uses.

“We collect at a couple county sites. Over the years the county has done a number of different things with the trees, depending on where they’re needed most,” Rider said Wednesday afternoon.

Some Christmas trees will be used for dune stabilization on local beaches, according to Rider.

Dune stabilization involves encouraging the natural process of dune building by trapping blowing sand with sand fences, natural vegetation or Christmas trees, according to NC State’s Cooperative Extension Service Center website.

Christmas trees are placed along dunes, and as sand blows along the beach, the sand encounters the trees and falls. The sand accumulates around the trees, creating or stabilizing dunes.

“We also want to be sure that all lights, tinsel and ornaments are removed. We can’t use anything in the natural environment that has plastic,” Rider said.

Artificial trees are not accepted at the sites, but Rider suggests donating any unwanted artificial trees to a thrift store or charity.

Possumwood Acres founder Toni O’Neal says the sanctuary also accepts Christmas trees to provide some of the wildlife with a barrier from the wind and a fun place for the animals to feed and nest.

“What we do every year is we ask for Christmas tree donations - without tinsel or ornaments- which we use for enrichment activities. Every cage gets one,” O’Neal said.

Enrichment activities provide stimulating and challenging objects and activities for animals.

The trees allow Screech owls and squirrels to hop up and down the branches, ducks and geese to huddle in them and the trees even provide racoons and possums with a winterized habitat, according to O’Neal.

“We encourage people to take advantage of this opportunity,” O’Neal said.

Trees can be left in a mounting pile of trees in the sanctuary’s drive. Donation receipts are also available upon request.

The Town of Swansboro is partnering with Pine Knoll Shores in an effort to help with their dune restoration.  Christmas trees may be placed curbside for pick-up by the Public Works Department through Jan. 13.  Trees may also be dropped off at the Public Works Facility on Fifth Street at the designated area Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Trees dropped off on Saturday or Sunday should be placed on the left side of the entrance gate.  Trees are to be cleared of wire, tinsel and any other man-made material.