Every year, after Christmas, the “Nome National Forest” grows out of the sea ice off Nome’s shore.
Cut Christmas trees shipped from the Lower 48 are sold as a fundraiser for the local cancer patient support group. (Some folks prefer the local tradition of cutting a willow bush and watching it bloom after being placed in water and exposed to warm indoor air.)
After the season, the trees are collected to “take root” off the coast. (On a sub-zero day, the trees are placed in augured holes, which are filled in with water, sturdily freezing the tree into place.) The forest is then populated with wood cut-outs of friendly animals. For the next few months, the “Nome National Forest” delights onlookers.
In springtime, the trees are “uprooted” and used to create fish spawning habitat in the local rivers, squeezing yet another purpose from the resource.
Image at top: Just off Nome’s coast, the “Nome National Forest” repurposes Christmas trees, alongside painted decorations, to colorfully ornament the rough terrain of the sea ice. Photo: David Dodman, KNOM.