Keep Columbia County Beautiful will hold its annual Bring One for the Chipper Christmas tree recycling from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 7 at The Home Depot, 520 N. Belair Road in Evans. The tree drop-off has been under way since Monday.
Operators will use heavy equipment to grind the trees into mulch, which will be available free of charge as long as supplies last.
Another tree-recycling option is an Army Corps of Engineers program in which hundreds of trees are collected at Riverside Middle School in Evans and trucked to Thurmond Lake for reuse in wildlife management projects and to attract fish.
Tree drop-off at the school is available through Friday, but all decorations, such as tinsel, lights and garland, must be removed from the trees.
Corps rangers and volunteers will submerge clusters of weighted trees around fishing piers to improve the fishing habitat. Additional trees will be staged at selected ramps around the lake to be used by the public.
Anyone wishing to obtain a list of locations where the trees will be available should contact the corps’ Thurmond Lake office after Jan. 10.
“Small trees and brush provide cover for fish, particularly as nursery areas for juvenile fish,” said Kenneth Boyd, Thurmond Lake’s conservation biologist. “In addition, they provide habitat for aquatic insects – essential food during the early stages of most fish species.”
In rural areas, discarded Christmas trees can be put to good use as erosion control or as brush piles to provide resting and escape cover for small animals. In addition to benefiting small game such as quail and rabbits, brush piles constructed of Christmas trees can help birds such as sparrows, towhees and wrens.
“We’re getting to the time of year when the leaves are off, and evergreen cover is a pretty important part of a total wildlife management plan,” said Tammy Wactor, a wildlife biologist for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. “Even though the needles of old Christmas trees will brown and fall off in two or three months, if you get enough trees piled up they will make pretty good cover.”
Brush piles are usually shaped like a mound or teepee, Wactor said, with the largest material forming the base and layers of small limbs and branches added as filler. The base should consist of sturdy trunks or limbs to allow adequate escape entrances at ground level.