How to Recycle Your Christmas Tree as an Underwater Fishing Habitat

Alright fishermen and ladies this ones for you! I was browsing around on Pinterest the other day and stumbled across an interesting concept that we don't hear too much about (it's a hush hush secret apparently). If after this holiday season, particularly right after Christmas until around New Years Day, you decide you want to trash or giveaway your current real Christmas tree...think about recycling your tree so it can become an underwater sanctuary for marine life, particularly fish. Wouldn't you feel better if you gave fish a new home to thrive living in, instead of leaving your tree at the end of your driveway for the trash collectors to pick up and dump in a landfill? This year according to TIME Magazine, it is expected that 25-30 million fresh cut Christmas trees will be sold - imagine how many of those trees could be put to good use through recycling.

Last year, fisherman Bob McNally and his family were featured in the December issue of Union Sportsmen Alliance's journal publication for sinking 20-40 Christmas trees horizontally with real hemp rope and cinder blocks down near his dock to enhance the fishing experience. Bob said, "We've been doing this annually for more than a decade, and it has turned my dock into one of the most sure-fire panfish magnets I've ever flipped a jig under...Fir, pine, and spruce trees rot quickly once sunk, but I don't care because there will be plenty more the following Christmas."

Is this making your heart beat race knowing you could possibly catch more fish with the help of a recycled Christmas tree?! Bob recommends checking with your local and state officials to make sure sinking cover in public waters is ok because you might need a permit for sinking the trees that will ultimately become a natural reef.

So how does Bob do it?... "I sink Christmas trees so that they're level on the bottom. I don't want Christmas tree tops sticking above the surface, since it can be a boat hazard. More importantly, I don't want to advertise that I've sunk brush to every angler casting the waterway....I work hard to sink trees tight to dock pilings, beside wooden cross supports, and under pier planking..." In addition to making a protective habitat for fish, aquatic insects also thrive in the Christmas trees, making it a win-win for fisherman using this tactic since most fish will feed off of bugs that are an essential part of their diet. 

If you aren't into fishing, but would like to help create a natural environment for marine life, you can still help make a difference in your local waterways! Many city Parks & Recreation and Fish & Wildlife Resources departments across the United States hold Christmas tree drop-off locations where you can leave your tree and they'll use it to sink into local lakes and rivers to promote and/or restore a healthy underwater habitat. It only takes a phone call to find out where you can help (or search via Google)!

Jeff Ross, Assistant Director of Fisheries for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, says, "As our lakes age, we need to replenish the woody habitat that rots away with time." Other material donations that state and local departments are in need of during this time are: wood pallets, cinder blocks, PVC pipe, plastic buckets, and wooden stakes. Believe it or not, when local departments sink Christmas trees, most will make public a map of the sunken brush on their website. This could be a really good tool for your next fishing trip!

For all my Texas readers, check out the Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association's link about how you can recycle your tree.


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