The holiday season is almost over and soon it will be time to take down the decorations and dispose of the tree. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has a few suggestions to help with tree disposal after the holiday season.

Mulched holiday trees reduce weeds, help regulate soil temperature and increase moisture retention. Many cities and towns offer tree-chipping services after the holidays, so check with the local public works or sanitation department to learn more.

Holiday trees may also be used as a fish habitat in a private lake or fishing pond. To make the tree into a fish habitat, secure a cement block to the stump end of the tree with quarter-inch nylon rope. Ideally, the top of the tree will be four to six feet below the surface. If citizens do not have access to their own lake or pond, contact the Missouri Department of Conservation to find a collection location near you.

Citizens can also help their friendly wildlife neighbors by decorating a tree as a food source. After removing all of the decorations from the tree, redecorate the tree with food items that can be eaten by birds, chipmunks and squirrels. These can include popcorn, cranberries or pine cones covered in peanut butter. Citizens can also hang apple rings or create a bowl from an orange that has had the juice and pulp removed and filled with unshelled peanuts.

The tree will need to be secured so that it will not blow over with the first strong gust of wind. The best method for securing the tree is to dig a hole and place the trunk of the tree in it. The tree can also be staked for extra security. Not only will the tree provide a tasty snack when food is scarce, it will also serve as a haven from the harsh winter winds.

Some general things to remember about managing a tree after the holidays:

Remove all of the trimmings -- most are reusable and could contaminate the environment or harm wildlife if left on Do not burn a tree in wood stoves or fireplaces if it is still green -- the resins could cause a flue fire Always dispose of the tree in an environmentally safe manner

Through proper management, a reused holiday tree may be a gift that keeps giving to the environment for years to come. More tips are available on the department's website at dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub184.pdf.