Nome National Forest — Where Used Christmas Trees Spend the Winter

A small forest of evergreen trees and exotic animals brightens the otherwise stark landscape outside of Nome, Alaska, each winter. Oddly, this forest sprouts on top of the frozen ocean. About 25 years ago, two community leaders decided to gather people’s old Christmas trees and put them on the ice in an attempt to trick visitors who traveled to Nome for the Iditarod. They repeated the practical joke the next year, this time complete with a hand-painted sign declaring it the Nome National Forest, and it’s been around every year since. Of course, Nome National Forest is neither a forest nor federally recognized. In a typical year, the forest has about 100 trees and 50 animal figures made of plywood and paint. In the Spring, the trees are uprooted and used to create fish spawning habitats in the local rivers, squeezing yet another purpose from the resource.