SC to collect discarded Christmas trees for artificial reefs

December 26, 2020 GMT

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina residents are being asked to recycle their discarded Christmas trees to help the state continue its efforts to attract fish by building artificial reefs.

Every winter the Department of Natural Resources gathers hundred of used Christmas trees to refurbish angling sites along Lake Murray, The Post and Courier reported.

Crews weigh the reefs down with cinder blocks, and occasionally use other items, like PVC pipe, to add to what officials describe as a makeshift aquatic habitat.

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“Fish like to live in places they feel protected,” said Sarah Chaabane, DNR’s aquatic education coordinator. “An exposed shoreline might be suitable for fish, but they might need a little encouragement.”

Each habitat contains roughly 30 trees, each typically 5 feet (1.5 meters) to 8 feet (2.4 meters) tall, said Jason Bettinger, one of DNR’s fisheries coordinators. But as trees age or deteriorate, the sites must be maintained. The agency aims to collect about 400 discarded trees every holiday season, Bettinger said.

Midlands residents can contribute to the effort by disposing of their used trees at one of the several pickup locations, including St. Andrews Park in Columbia, Caughman Road Park in Hopkins and Friarsgate Park in Irmo. Trees can also be dropped off at the S.C. State Farmers Market in West Columbia. Drop-offs at all locations are welcome after Christmas through the first week of January.

Closer to Charleston, residents can drop their trees off at the Bees Ferry Landfill in West Ashley and receive a free bag of mulch. Crews in Charleston County will also pick up discarded trees curbside Monday through Friday.

Before residents drop their trees off, officials stress that all lights, tinsel and ornaments should be removed. And make sure the tree is not still attached to its stand.