Recycled Christmas trees provide new fish habitatBy Emily Etheredge Published 5:42pm Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Christmas arrived a few months late for fish at Lake Mitchell as new habitats were delivered for the fish via recycled Christmas trees early Tuesday morning.
Alabama Power and the Lake Mitchell Home Owners and Boat Owners Association (HOBO) along with Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, a division of the Alabama Department of Conservation created a team effort as they unloaded more than 200 recycled Christmas trees to be dropped in different areas of Lake Mitchell for fish habitats.
Alabama Power environmental specialist Doug Powell said the purpose of dropping the recycled trees into the lake is to help provide cover for fish and enhance a nursery habitat for juvenile fish that will often burrow deep within the trees creating a home to hide inside.
“It is a neat thing to be able to take a Christmas tree that was once decorated in someone’s home and be able to recycle it for the fish to make a new home,” Powell said.
The crews delivered the trees via three boats, two owned by Alabama Power and one owned by Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, to the southern portion of the lake dropping them off into water that was 12-15 feet deep.
The trees are bundled into groups of four and weighted down with three 12-inch concrete blocks with a piece of foam attached to the top of one of the trees to let fishermen know where the habitats are located.
“Fish will find the trees no problem,” Powell said. “Fisherman sometimes won’t, so we try to make it visible for them to know where we have placed them.”
Powell said the trees typically last in the lake for up to five years depending on the condition of the Christmas tree.
Powell said the main types of fish that use the habitat in the 14-mile lake are bass and crappie.
“When we place each bundle of trees in the lake, we record with a GPS the coordinates of the different sites to keep track of where we have placed the trees,” Powell said.
Powell said Alabama Power started the recycling program with various lakes in Alabama in 1992 when Alabama Power signed a memorandum of understanding that stated they would participate in the delivery of the trees.
The recycling program started at Lake Mitchell in 1996.
“I think since we started this program we have recycled more than 56,000 Christmas trees,” Powell said. “It has been a wonderful thing and we enjoy doing this.”
The trees recycled on Tuesday came from Mountain Scout Christmas tree lot in Vestavia who sold trees to customers and provided the opportunity for them to donate the trees back for recycling.