Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 16

RM

| OUTDOORS

Christmas trees
can bring joy
long after the
holidays

HOLIDAY HABITAT

by Paul Newton | pnewton@ruralmissouri.coop

O

nce all the stockings have been emptied,
gifts have been opened, holiday cookies have
been eaten and family and friends departed,
what are you going to do with your Christmas
tree? Missouri anglers would like you to consider
giving it a new use.
Many Missourians recycle their trees after the
holiday and they are placed in many of Missouri's
ponds and lakes to create expansive fish habitat which enhance a body of water's whole food
chain.
According to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, it became illegal for Missouri landfills to accept Christmas trees in 1992. This was
because they took up a disproportionate amount
of space at the landfill and they can be reused as
brush, mulch and to building fish habitats.
Andrew Branson, fisheries program specialist
with the Missouri Department of Conservation,
says the trees provide cover for the fish.
"Fish will utilize any kind of thing for cover," he
says. "Woody debris, stumps are good, but trees
have so many little nooks and crannies for the
fish to settle into. Evergreen trees are especially
useful, because they've got lots of branches. Lots
of spots to hold lots of fish."
This provides nourishment for the fish as
smaller fish will eat insects around the branches
of the tree according to the DNR. The cover also
gives those smaller fish a hiding place from bigger fish looking for their next meal.
That higher concentration of fish in one spot
will in turn be of benefit for anglers looking for a
big catch.
The trees can be even more impactful for newer lakes and ponds that lack adequate cover. "It's
especially important in a lake or pond that's just
built and doesn't have natural cover. It might
be fresh-scraped dirt, not much vegetation, no
aquatic plants and all the trees and shrubs are
gone."
Placement of the trees is an important factor
to attracting the fish.
"Typically the trees are placed a little bit out
from the shore," Andrew says. "You don't want to
sink the trees in too deep of
water. If they sink down too
far, they'll be in a low-oxygen
zone and the fish won't use it.
It should be in water 15 feet
deep or less. Ideal would be
somewhere in the eight- or
nine-foot range."
MDC's need for trees varies
by year and region. If you are
interested in donating your
used Christmas tree, contact your local MDC office to
inquire. If you have a lake or
pond that you own or where
you have permission, you can
place trees in yourself.
DNR recommends using a

16

RURAL MISSOURI | DECEMBER 2017

Above: The Missouri Department of Conservation uses donated Christmas trees to build fish habitat in their lakes
across the state. Below: While dumping an individual tree into a lake can help, creating clusters of trees is a much more
effective way of developing a fish habitat in your lake or pond.
quarter-inch nylon rope to secure a cement block
to the stump of the tree. The trees can be taken
out by boat and dumped in. If your lake or pond
is frozen over with a minimum of 6 inches of ice,
you can also drag your tree to the portion of the
lake you want to place it and let Mother Nature
sink it for you.
When the MDC dumps trees, they boost their

effectiveness by dumping multiple trees in the
same spot to create an expansive underwater living area.
"If all you have is one tree, then obviously that
will be better than doing nothing," Andrew says.
"But what you really want is a cluster of trees
near each other. You tie all of them together with
the concrete block and create a cluster."
Before donating or dumping a
tree, it's important to remember
to remove all of the ornaments
and tree trimming. In addition
to mostly being reusable, the ornaments can damage Missouri's
natural resources.
"The fish won't appreciate the
decorations. It all needs to be removed," Andrew says. "This is a
good way to reuse your tree and
give it a second life in the water.
The fish will appreciate that."
For more ideas about recycling
a Christmas tree call your local
MDC office or visit MDC at mdc.
mo.gov or DNR at dnr.mo.gov.


http://www.mdc.mo.gov http://www.mdc.mo.gov http://dnr.mo.gov

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - December 2017

Contents
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - Intro
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - Contents
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 4
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 5
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 6
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 7
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 8
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 9
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Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 37
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 38
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Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 41
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 42
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - Cover4
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