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Recycling your tree can help fish habitats

Staff Report • Jan 7, 2013 at 8:46 AM

Many area residents will be taking down their Christmas decorations this weekend. If you are one of these folks, don’t forget to dispose of your live Christmas tree in a “green” manner.

In the past, this has meant hauling a Christmas tree to a “Chipping of the Green” event where it would be turned into post-holiday mulch. Today, many area residents are participating in the sinking of the green.

Dubbed “tREeCYCLE,” this is the fifth year the city of Johnson City, the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency and the Keep Johnson City Beautiful have worked together to place real Christmas trees in area lakes to create “habitat improvement structures” where fish can hide and find food.

This project not only enhances the overall aquatic habitat of the lakes, but it also improves fishing opportunities for local anglers. TWRA biologists say they have been very successful in using Christmas trees to create fish habitats in East Tennessee. These weighted and sunken trees provide inviting structures for fish — such as bass and crappie — to gather.

The tREeCYCLE is just one of the many award-winning recycling programs operated by Johnson City, which launched Tennessee’s first municipal curbside recycling pickup in 1989. Real Christmas trees cleared of all decorations and tinsel will be accepted for residential curbside pickup in Johnson City until Jan. 19. City residents should keep their Christmas trees separate from their normal brush collection so that they can be properly recycled.

Both Johnson City and Washington County residents can also drop off their trees at the Winged Deer Park boat ramp parking lot off Carroll Creek Road until Jan. 19. Residents should place trees at the northwest side of the parking lot below the recycling station.

For more information about tREeCYCLE, call Keep Johnson City Beautiful coordinator Eva Hunter at 979-6318.

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

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