New designated areas to decorate trees on Helena's open lands

Posted at 4:59 PM, Dec 01, 2022

HELENA — In years past, the decoration of trees along the trails on Mount Ascension and Mount Helena has created a bit of a litter problem. But this year the City of Helena is working to keep the Christmas spirit alive with the goal of keeping the areas free from litter.

“The city wants to stay in the spirit of Christmas, and we're excited to have people decorate. We just want to put some side boards on it and try to keep it in these two areas,” says Open Lands Manager for the City of Helena, Brad Langsather.

Designated decoration trees with orange flags have popped up along some popular hiking trails on the city’s open lands system. One area is on Mount Ascension near the Beattie Street Trailhead and the other is on Mount Helena near the Mt. Helena Parking lot.

“Well, we chose the area on Mount Ascension because it had been the most popular area. And then we just picked a logical site on Mount Helena that was real accessible for everyone,” says Langsather.

This is in response to randomly decorated trees throughout the mountains around town and the subsequent littering that can occur. Officials found that many of the decorated trees weren’t being cleaned up after the holidays. For example, last year more than 30 trees were decorated. The city says they had to clean up many of them.

“The reason we've asked people to stick to these areas is if we come up here after the 8th of January and the decorations are not removed, at least we don't have to canvas the entire mountain looking for decorations,” says Langsather.

That’s why they’re trying this new approach. It’s a way to keep the decorated trees consolidated for easy cleanup, while still celebrating the holidays.

The city is asking that no glass ornaments or tinsel be hung up. They highly encourage biodegradable decorations like dried cranberries. The city is also asking that all decorations be cleaned up by January 8th.