Wildfires Threaten Future Christmas Trees in Western NC

By: Kara Haselton

Wildfires are not something that those living in the Piedmont area have to worry much about. But for over a month now, wildfires have run rampant in North Carolina’s forests, specifically in the Western region. There is still some speculation going around about whether or not the fires were started naturally or were purposefully set by people, but there is no question about why the fires are continually spreading so quickly. There’s been a drought and lack of moisture in the South for several months, leaving hardly any hope for the fires to be put out by Mother Nature. Not only has the dry and fire-prone weather factored into possibly the worst wildfires seen in North Carolina, but the winds have also been strong keeping the fire alive and widespread.

There are roughly eighteen wildfires burning in North Carolina, causing mountain towns and cities to be evacuated. Firefighters have been arriving from counties all across the state and country, some even from as far as Alaska. Just recently, the national guard has arrived relieving some of the firefighters from their post.

The fires have destroyed many homes and damaged a lot of business properties. However, there is one small thing that has been especially affected that might cause repercussions over the next several years: Christmas tree farms.

Many farms selling Christmas trees in the mountains of North Carolina have either been affected by the spreading fires, or are worried that they will be. This loss of product, which is usually their main source of income for the year, could lead to significant financial problems and maybe even the closing of their farm.

However, Christmas trees take a long time to grow. These farms won’t be able to simply hope next year’s crop will be better. Plenty of farms who have lost their trees will be forced to start over. It could be another 8-15 years before they’re ready to sell more trees.

Not only will these tree farmers be seriously affected business-wise and financially, but the general American public will feel it as well. Over the next decade or so, it’s possible that people will experience a shortage of Christmas trees due to the lack of trees ready to harvest.