Watery habitats offer tree recycling alternatives

By Wayne Bryan Originally Published January 3, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated January 2, 2013 at 9:53 a.m.
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— Fishermen could use your old Christmas tree, and the fish would like that too.

Your natural Christmas trees are being sought by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to help improve fishing spots in the state’s lakes and maybe even create new places where fish gather.

“These trees are some of the best natural forms of underwater structure,” said Clifton Jackson, community fisheries biologist for the game and fish commission.

One of the locations accepting Christmas trees is the Andrew H. Hulsey State Fish Hatchery on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs. Hatchery Manager Don Brader said the trees are a great habitat for fish cover.

Fish, especially some of the most popular sport-fishing species, such as bass, bream and crappie, are attracted to the environment created by a sunken Christmas tree. He said the trees also give smaller, younger fish a place to hide from predators.

Jackson said fishermen have been sinking Christmas trees into lakes for many years.

“The trees provide cheap, but quality, underwater structures,” Jackson said. “They are easy to place in ponds and lakes and they last for several years.”

For those wanting to use a Christmas tree in a private pond, just make sure the tree will be submerged by attaching a large rock or concrete block to the tree, game and fish commission said.

At the hatchery on Lake Hamilton, people wanting to drop off a tree can bring it to the hatchery boat ramp. There is a designated area for the tree-drop, then game and fish employees will deploy them.

Another location near the Tri-Lakes region is on Lake Greeson in Pike County, north of Murfreesboro. Trees are being collected at New Cowhide Cove and Self Creek recreation areas.

There are more than 30 agency authorized drop-off locations around the state. According to an announcement by the commission, the Christmas tree drop-off will run through Jan. 23.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is taking only natural trees, not artificial trees, and they ask that all the decorations be removed before they are dropped off.

Meanwhile, if a watery second life for a Christmas tree isn’t convenient, many solid waste pick-up agencies in the region offer a way to recycle the trees.

Samantha Norwood of the Hot Springs Sanitation Department said trees are being collected at the

Recycling Drop-off Center at Valley Road and Runyon Street in Hot Springs. She said the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is taking some of those trees for fish habitats as well.

“We will pick up Christmas trees at curbside if they are cut in half,” she said. “The pick up that would include the trees is every two weeks. What day it is will depend on the address.”

Trees not used by game and fish will be ground into mulch.

Tia Marshall of the Saline County Solid Waste Management District said they are looking to work with the Game and Fish Commission next year for recycling Christmas trees.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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