A month ago, the half-acre mound of Christmas trees piled outside Home Depot on Bobby Jones Expressway would have commanded a small fortune.
Today, it's mere trash.
By Saturday, when a mammoth shredder will grind the remnants of holiday cheer into garden mulch, residents will be offered an opportunity to enjoy their trees once again.
"Mulch, especially from green Christmas trees, has a pleasant smell and some good uses," said Sid Mullis, the director of the University of Georgia's Extension Service office in Augusta.
Mulch helps to hold moisture in soil and prevent erosion.
"You should, and can, put it around any woody plant," including azaleas, he said.
In addition to free tree mulch Saturday, people who bring trees can receive free seedlings from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Christmas trees are also being recycled at Thurmond Lake, where the Army Corps of Engineers uses them to build submerged fish attracters that can provide cover for baitfish.
"Last year we put out thousands of trees at some of the bank fishing areas at Scott's Ferry, Clarks Hill Park, West Dam and Lake Springs," said Jamie Sykes, the Corps of Engineers district fisheries biologist.
This year, the corps will be collecting trees through Monday at Riverside Middle School, 1095 Furys Ferry Road in Evans.
On Jan. 11, corps officials and volunteers will bunch and submerge the trees at fishing piers at Amity, Lake Springs and Petersburg recreation areas in Georgia and at Clarks Hill Park in South Carolina.
Trees will be piled at Amity and Long Cane boat ramps so anglers can establish their own underwater reefs, Mr. Sykes said.
"They're mostly for crappie fishermen to use as fish attracters," he said.
The corps maintains maps of submerged tree reefs on its Web site, www.sas.usace.army.mil/lakes/thurmond/fishing.htm.
"We've tried, in the last few years, to make a concerted effort to improve bank fishing," Mr. Sykes said.
Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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