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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about..."ugly mix" to prevent the theft of roadside evergreen trees.


CURWOOD: Last month it was turkeys, but this month evergreens are under the axe. With more than 30 million Christmas trees sold in December, that's big business and the merchants have made big changes over the years. In the 1950s, most Christmas trees were taken from the forest. Today there's a 98% chance that the tree you buy grew on a plantation. Now, most people decorate their trees with ornaments, but employees at New York's Department of Transportation dress roadside trees with a coating called "ugly mix" to scare off roadside thieves. In recent years a troubling number of drivers have been pulling over and chopping down landscape trees for Christmas. The Department hopes the stomach-turning mixture of hydrated lime and food coloring will send potential thieves to the nearest Christmas tree lot. In case that doesn't discourage, the highway workers spray on odor: bad smells like skunk juice and cat urine. Leave the trees be and you can breathe easy. Sprayed or not, one acre of Christmas trees produces enough oxygen for 18 people every day. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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