Christmas trees recycled for fish habitats in local TreeCycle program

Gary B. Gray • Dec 26, 2013 at 9:17 PM

You selected it. You somehow got it through your front door. You placed it. You decorated and admired it. But at some point, you’ll have to get rid of it.

Here’s an out, and it happens to be a “green” way to dispose of those brown Christmas trees. It’s called TreeCycle — a collaborative effort between Johnson City’s Public Works Department, Keep Johnson City Beautiful and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

The trees are reused in area lakes by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to create fish habitats. Fish habitats improve the health of the aquatic environment while enhancing the fishing opportunities for local anglers. TWRA needs 6,000 trees annually for the fish habitats. To reach that goal, TWRA employees collect trees all across Northeast Tennessee, from Bristol to Maryville.

“We’re glad to see this continue into its fifth year,” said Eva Hunter, Keep Johnson City Beautiful coordinator. “The wildlife resources folks work really hard, and this is such a great landfill diversion program. It’s a great partnership, and if we were not doing this, we’d have to mulch them or put them in the landfill.”

Hunter said the TWRA has focused in the past on creating the habitats in lakes between the Tri-Cities and Maryville, but the focus is more on Johnson City this year.

Treecycling is a great way to return a natural resource back to the environment instead of disposing of it in a landfill where organic materials like trees decompose under anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions which produces methane gas, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

From now until Jan. 18, city residents can place their Christmas trees (no artificial or flocked trees) curbside for collection. Make sure you’ve removed all decorations. Households with regular brush collection service should keep their Christmas tree separate from their brush in order to have it collected and reused.

Johnson City and Washington County residents may also choose to drop off their trees at the Winged Deer Park boat ramp parking lot off of Carroll Creek Road. Residents are asked to place them at the northwest side of the parking lot below the recycling station. This service is available on any day during the same time period.

Please do not deposit trees at Freedom Hall. Collection service at that location was discontinued in 2008.

Erwin residents can take their Christmas trees to the Hoover Convenience Center on Industrial Drive. The center, which is open from 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, will accept trees for recycling until the end of January. Some of the trees will be used by the National Fish Hatchery in Erwin as habitat structures in area lakes.

For more information on the city’s program, call Hunter at 979-6318.

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