Inside JCPRD: Consider giving us your tired holiday tree or donating supplies for nature center animals

Post-holiday contributions of discarded natural Christmas trees will be accepted at four JCPRD park locations from Dec. 26 through Jan. 31.

By David Markham

JCPRD is currently offering two very different ways to donate to help local parks and some of the animals therein.

Separate programs are currently seeking discarded natural Christmas trees, and donations of supplies for the animals in and around the Ernie Miller Nature Center.

Post-holiday contributions of discarded natural Christmas trees will be accepted at four JCPRD park locations from Dec. 26 through Jan. 31. Tree disposal sites include: the Sunflower access point of the new Big Bull Creek Park at 20245 Sunflower Road in Edgerton; the Theatre in the Park parking lot in Shawnee Mission Park with an entrance at 7710 Renner Road, Shawnee (separate from the park’s main entrance); the Heritage Park Marina parking lot, 16050 Pflumm Road, Olathe; and the north side of the parking lot at the marina at Kill Creek Park, 11670 Homestead Lane, Olathe.

Trees will be collected during regular winter park hours, which are 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., except at Shawnee Mission Park, which opens at 6 a.m. in the winter.

In 2019, several hundred trees were “recycled.” Some of the trees are mulched for use on trails and in landscaping, while others are sunk to improve fish habitat in district lakes.

No yard waste will be accepted – only Christmas trees. Wrappers should be removed from the discarded trees as well as any remaining decorations; particularly “icicles” and decorations made from mylar, shiny plastic, or aluminum.

There is no charge for the disposal of trees, and these disposal sites are open to anyone regardless of residency. For additional information, call Visitor Services at the JCPRD Administration Building in Shawnee Mission Park at (913) 888-4713.

“It’s a huge help for us in feeding and care of the animals,” said Outdoor Education Manager Bill McGowan.

Individuals, families, and groups wanting to make a difference are invited to consider contributing a gift to the animals at the Ernie Miller Nature Center through a program called Holidays for the Animals. Located at 909 N. Kansas 7 Highway, Olathe, the nature center has ongoing needs for supplies for both the animals kept at the center and the wild animals which come to the feeders.

This program has been going on for more than 10 years, and sometimes the resulting donations have provided enough feed and supplies to carry the nature center through June or beyond.

“It’s a huge help for us in feeding and care of the animals,” said Outdoor Education Manager Bill McGowan. “We go through a lot of birdseed in a year, so it’s a big supplement, especially for our wildlife viewing areas to receive birdseed, corn, and suet cakes.

Donations are accepted on an ongoing basis. Please look over the following list and consider making a contribution: brown or green duct tape; various sizes of clear critter totes/pet keepers boxes with lids; bags of reptile bedding; gift certificates to LifeTime Pets, Price Chopper, Wal-Mart, or Petland; pinewood shavings; unscented non-clumping cat litter; equine pine pellets; bleach; bags of safflower or black oil sunflower seeds (no seed mixes, please); suet cakes; and rolls of ¼ inch & 3/8 inch sisal rope.

One item on last year’s list, disinfecting wipes, which are used to help clean up after the animals, were requested long before the pandemic but later became especially important when they were in short supply because of COVID-19.

“It helped us through that initial phase when you couldn’t find a Clorox wipe in the stores,” McGowan said.

Donors who wish to be recognized will have their names listed in the nature center’s Tracks newsletter, so please take time to fill out a card at the nature center!

For more information, call the Ernie Miller Nature Center at (913) 826-2800.