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Old Christmas trees make good homes for fish
A pile of Christmas trees sits Monday at the Blackshear Place compactor site. - photo by SARA GUEVARA
For more information, call the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Shoreline Management at 770-945-9531.

After all the ornaments and lights are removed, some fish may like to enjoy your Christmas tree for months to come.

Christmas trees can provide good habitats for fish in ponds and lakes, said Nick Jamison, a fisheries biologist with the Department of Natural Resources.

“You’ve got dense cover, which is going to bring in small bait fish because they can hide in those areas and feed there and that’s going to bring your predator fish in there,” Jamison said. “It’s a food chain effect.”

Jamison said the optimal way to create such a fish habitat is to tie a few trees together for density and anchor them six to 10 feet below the water.

Jamison said in years past, the Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers collected old Christmas trees to create habitats.

Now, the Department of Natural Resources uses PVC plastic to create permanent places for the fish.

“It’s a long- term solution,” Jamison said. “Christmas trees, you might get two years out of them, if you’re lucky. Once the needles fall off and they start to break down, they’re not going to hold fish anymore.”

Tim Rainey, operations manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said though they no longer have a formal Christmas tree recycling program, the corps still needs to know where the skeletons of old Christmas trees are submerged.

If the trees are just thrown in, they likely will end up as floating debris.

“Anytime you do anything in the lake you need to get a permit,” Rainey said. “We don’t want them haphazardly out there, we want to know where they are.”

Rainey said the corps can work with groups who have collected trees to establish fish habitats near banks for fisherman.

“We mark them on our maps. For example, fishermen can go on the Internet and download where they are so they know where to go fish,” Rainey said.

If you don’t want to toss your tree into the lake, they also are accepted at all Hall County compactor sites, but all decorations must be removed.

Residents can “Bring One for the Chipper,” and recycle Christmas trees at any compactor site or the Hall County Recycling Center on Chestnut Street in Gainesville. After the county collects the trees and chips them, county residents and local governments can use the mulch on playgrounds and in individual landscaping projects.

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