Not sure of the best way to handle your live Christmas tree once the holiday season is over? Residents near two Upstate lakes can make your festive decor food and fish home.
Upstate residents with live Christmas trees can recycle them at the Hartwell Dam and Lake Project and J. Strom Thurmond Lake once the holiday season is over. In Hartwell, residents can drop off their trees from December 26 to January 26. In Thurmond, trees will be accepted from December 18 to January 14.
In man-made lakes where fish may struggle to find abundant vegetation for shelter and nutrients, anchoring live trees to the bottom of the lake can help provide shelter and space. feeding fish in fresh water. Thurmond and Hartwell are both man-made lakes or reservoirs, created by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
When recycled Christmas trees are placed in the lake, they are tied into bundles and anchored to concrete blocks so they sink to the bottom. There, they make shelters and feeding places for the fish.
“It really improves the habitat there. The small trees and brush provide cover for the fish and nursery areas for the young fish. They provide habitat for aquatic insects, which serves as an essential food source in the early stages of development of most fish species,” said Hartwell Park Ranger Scott Lusk. “It creates shelter and food for bait fish, which attracts crappie bass, sunfish species and ultimately, the recycled wood benefits the fish as well as the fishermen.”
At Hartwell, trees are cut in shallower areas to avoid becoming a hazard to boats as the water level fluctuates. While the deeper areas of the lake are still forested, the shallower waters can leave fish species without stable underwater habitats, said Park Ranger Scott Lusk.
Fish don’t just need shelter. Trees also grow algae, which is a food source for fish, and they also contain macroinvertebrates and insects. Once a tree is in place, it takes about two weeks to start attracting fish. Trees last in water for about three years.
Hartwell receives approximately 250 trees each year. In Thurmond, residents have been cutting down their trees for more than 30 years, conservation biologist Evan Brashier said. Every year, the lake receives 800-1,000 trees, he said.
“The soil type is not really suitable for aquatic plants,” Brashier said. “Especially here in Thurman, our lake changes during the winter and comes back during the spring. It’s not really good for growing plants around there, so we’re trying to try to add structure, if possible, through the Christmas tree program.”
Christmas tree drop-off areas also serve as pickup locations for fishermen, or people who catch fish with a fishing hook and line. While Corps members will place trees left at drop sites, anglers can make their own shelters if they place anchor trees in 8-12 feet of Hartwell and 15- 20 feet of Thurmond.
Each lake has a number of “fish attractors,” or structures designed to bring fish to an area. The attractions help people who want to fish but aren’t as familiar with the lake find areas that are likely to be populated, Lusk said.
Between Thurmond and Hartwell, Christmas trees account for about 27% of fish attractions, according to data from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Hartwell has 11 fish attractors and Thurmond has 10. Each fish attractor has a buoy that marks its location.
There are three drop-off locations at Lake Thurmond. The main location is below the Dam Use Day Park, while other locations are at the Dorn Boat Ramp and the Parksville Day Use area.
At Lake Hartwell, residents can drop off their trees at the Twin Lakes boat ramp or the Coneross boat ramp.
Prepare Christmas trees for recycling
Before it is placed in the lake, each tree must be stripped of all lights and decorations. Wire-frame wreaths, debris and other household waste, along with fake trees, should never be placed in lakes.
South Carolina used to have more locations available for Christmas tree recycling, but in recent years, they have begun to rely on plastic fish attractors that need to be replaced less often, a spokesperson for State Department of Natural Resources.
Garbage can increase overall during the holiday between Thanksgiving and the beginning of the New Year, the amount of garbage in the average American household increases by about 25%, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In South Carolina, residents are encouraged to recycle whenever possible. , but also to avoid contaminating recyclable items with non-recyclable items.
According to the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, residents should avoid including items from the “holiday dirty half-dozen” in their recycling to avoid contamination. These things include:
- Lighting strings
- Textured wrapping paper, such as gloss or glitter
- Bows, ribbon and thread
- Styrofoam items and packing peanuts
- Plastic bags
- Tissue paper
Each public recycling location has different rules and accepts different items. To learn more about your local drop-site recycling hours and what items can be recycled, visit The Greenville News Upstate Recycling Guide here, or search by county here.
Sarah Swetlik covers climate change and environmental issues in Upstate South Carolina for The Greenville News.He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at X at @sarahgswetlik.
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