Old Christmas trees have new uses helping fish, wildlife

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Rangers hauled off about 1,100 discarded Christmas trees Thursday from a drop-off site in Columbia County to Sumter National Forest and Thurmond Lake, where they will be reused as habitat enhancers for fish and wildlife.

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Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Forest Service employees collect Christmas trees that were dropped off at Riverside Middle School. About 600 trees were bound for Thurmond Lake, where they will be weighted and submerged to freshen up some of the corps' fish attractors in public shoreline areas.  JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Forest Service employees collect Christmas trees that were dropped off at Riverside Middle School. About 600 trees were bound for Thurmond Lake, where they will be weighted and submerged to freshen up some of the corps' fish attractors in public shoreline areas.

“This is definitely one of our bigger years in terms of tree numbers,” said Corps Park Ranger David Quebedeaux, who was helping crews from the corps and U.S. Forest Service move mounds of trees from Riverside Middle School.

About 600 trees were bound for the lake, where they will be weighted and submerged to freshen up some of the corps’ fish attractors in public shoreline areas.

“We’ll also be putting trees at Mistletoe, and at the boat ramps at Amity and Dordon Creek,” Quebedeaux said.

Anglers are also welcome to take and use the trees to create their own fishing holes.

“Typically we tell people to make sure they put them in deep enough water so they aren’t a navigation hazard, and to anchor them with cinder blocks,” he said. “You can also put multiple trees on a cinder block and the larger the areas of cover, the better it works at attracting fish.”

The U.S. Forest Service crews from the Long Cane district of Sumter National Forest also hauled off about 500 trees, he said.

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.

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