The University of Wyoming Extension Horticulturist for Laramie County is urging people to buy a real Christmas tree rather than an artificial tree this year.

Catherine Wissner says, first of all, it's important to understand that there are farmers who grow trees specifically for sale as Christmas trees in just about every state of the union. She says those farms plant roughly 350,000 acres worth of trees across the country.

She says the trees "are providing an amazing environmental benefit." Those benefits include cleaning the air, producing oxygen and sequestering carbon as well as pulling pollution out of the air.

She says the trees also offer a habitat for birds and small mammals. Those smaller animals, in turn, provide food for predators farther up the food chain. ''They put back into the environment a lot" Wissner says, adding that "they have a very small carbon footprint." She says another good thing is that Christmas trees are generally "grown chemical-free, with a minimal amount of water. So they are just a real benefit to the environment."

Wissner says on top of all of that, the trees are recyclable, often used to create mulch which can, n turn, be used by gardeners. Wissner says artificial trees, on the other hand, are made with petroleum by-products, mostly in China.

She says that the process involves petroleum being shipped to China. the tree being manufactured there, and then the trees being shipped to the United States. Wissner says that all adds up to a "huge carbon footprint."

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