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Sunday, September 21, 2014, 1:39 p.m.
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AGFC sinks Christmas trees for fish habitats

By Lisa Burnett

This article was published February 23, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

ben-batten-left-and-clint-coleman-with-the-arkansas-game-and-fish-commission-toss-christmas-trees-weighted-with-cinder-blocks-into-the-cabot-community-pond-as-part-of-a-program-for-improving-fish-habitats

Ben Batten left, and Clint Coleman with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, toss Christmas trees weighted with cinder blocks into the Cabot Community Pond as part of a program for improving fish habitats.

CABOT — Fish in some of the Three Rivers Edition coverage area waters now have a new place to call home, thanks to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

On Wednesday, officials with the AGFC sank Christmas trees in the Cabot Community Fishing Pond and Cherrywood Lake in Sherwood to create fish habitats.

Ben Batten, program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Family and Community Fishing Program, said this is something that happens every year.

“It’s a seasonal thing. We sink either used or unsold Christmas trees. It usually happens around January or February,” Batten said.

Batten said this is a way for the trees that would otherwise be thrown away to be put to good use.

“I think the reason we use Christmas trees is because they’re readily available,” he said.

The trees give the fish a place to hide from predators and build nests when preparing to lay eggs.

“These habitats provide [the fish] shelter, and [the habitats] also gather small insects and fish, which will bring in larger fish to feed. They give anglers a place where they know fish will be,” Batten said.

Fish in city-park ponds seem to thrive the most when such a fish habitat is put into place, he said.

“A lot of times, [those ponds] are just like a bowl,” Batten said. “When they are stocked, the fish are usually young and totally vulnerable to predators.”

In larger lakes such as Greers Ferry, Batten said, there are generally trees that naturally fall into the lake, creating fish habitats without the assistance of crews sinking trees into the water.

“We’re hoping that these habitats help improve fish populations,” Batten said.

Crappie, bass, bluegills and other fish will use these habitats, according to an AGFC news release.

Batten encourages others to recycle their trees next year if they have a chance.

“A lot of people even sink their own, and they have their own secret spots,” he said. “Please recycle your trees, and let us make them into fish habitats.”

A list of tree drop-off locations is released around Christmastime each year.

For more information on area waters where the AGFC has placed fish structures, or for Family and Community Fishing Program locations, call the commission at (800) 364-4263 or visit www.agfc.com.

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