CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio — Christmas is over and stores are starting to get rid of piles of Christmas trees. But instead of tossing them to curb, the Ohio Division of Wildlife is taking those trees and using them to help improve fish habitats.
“These trees would obviously end up in a landfill, but if we use them correctly, we can place them in our lakes around Northeast Ohio,” said Fishery Biologist Matt Wolfe.
Wolfe says reservoirs across Northeast Ohio are getting old and because of that, he says there are fewer fish habitats in the water, which leaves fish vulnerable to prey and without a safe place to lay eggs.
But live Christmas trees can help.
“Over time these trees will disintegrate. These trees are very dry, the needles will fall off anyway but that’s okay,” Wolfe said. “The fish will actually look for these little spaces in between the branches. This is great for fish to hide out. I can stick my hand right behind here and you can’t see my hand at all.”
The trees will also help fisherman catch fish.
Wolfe and a crew of three others spent Thursday and Friday after the holiday collecting unused Christmas trees from stores. Wolfe says unused trees are more environment-friendly.
The crew has already collected up to 700 trees.
“People actually track us down to get rid of these trees,” he said.
Over the next few weeks, Wolfe says those trees will be strategically placed in reservoirs in Geauga and Ashtabula counties. Because the agency was granted permission to do so, Wolfe encourages community members to avoid doing the same in order to prevent becoming a liability.
“When we place stuff in the water we mark it on our maps, we have our master files with all of our locations over the years. If something goes wrong we have to go back and fix it,” he explained.
Wolfe and his crew will continue this process until March.
If you are looking to recycle your Christmas tree, you are encouraged to do so at designated locations.