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From the Times Daily, December 27, 2010
Usefulness of Christmas trees can contnue after the holidays
By the start of the new year, natural Christmas trees will have lost some of their needles and much of their appeal.
Many of the natural trees will be tossed at the curb for disposal. But they can be recycled to become homes for fish and other wildlife.
The Little Bear Millennium Group in Franklin County is collecting natural Christmas trees to use for creating fish habitats in Little Bear Creek Reservoir west of Russellville.
Natural trees with decorations and stands removed can be dropped off at the Russellville electric Board Warehouse on Jackson Avenue. Volunteers from the Millennium Group will collect the trees for use at the organization's annual work day Feb. 12 where the discarded holiday decorations and old wooden shipping pallets will be used to create homes for fish in the lake.
Cooper said retailers with quantities of unsold Christmas trees can call him 256-627-7758 to arrange for pickup. He said a retailer in Decatur donated more than 100 unsold Christmas trees to the group in 2009.
Phillip Cooper, an avid angler and organizer of the work day, said fishing has improved in Little Bear Creek Reservoir since volunteers began placing old Christmas trees and other materials on the lake bottom in 2000 in an effort to improve the fishery.
"We probably had over 70 bass weighing 5 pounds or more weighed in this year just at the Monday night tournaments on Little Bear," he said. "Before we started our work, we were lucky to have five 5-pounders weighed in all year."
Cooper said old Christmas trees provide places for minnows and small gamefish to hide from predators. He said larger fish are unable to swim within the close-knit limbs of Christmas trees to pursue minnows and juvenile gamefish.
Cooper estimates volunteers have placed about 150,000 cubic feet of old Christmas trees, shipping pallets, limbs and other wood-type material in the lake in the past 10 years. The material is anchored to the bottom to prevent it from floating away and creating hazards for boaters.
Many Tennessee Valley anglers collect Christmas trees from their families and friends and sink them in local lakes to create their own fishing holes.
The Tennessee Valley Authority discourages lake users from sinking Christmas trees and other objects in its reservoirs without permission.
Discarded Christmas trees also provide homes for birds and other small animals.
Keith Hudson, a Florence-based wildlife biologist for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said a pile of old Christmas trees placed at the edge of a yard can become a habitat for rabbits, chipmunks, birds and other wildlife.