DEM Accepting Discarded Christmas Trees for River Habitat Restoration

By: Tim Studebaker

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EXETER, R.I. (WLNE) – If you’re still holding onto your Christmas tree, and want a landfill-free disposal option, the Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife might want it.

RI Division of Fish & Wildlife Fisheries Biologist Corey Pelletier says, “What we’re doing is collecting Christmas trees for habitat improvement projects. We call it ‘Trees for Trout.'”

Donated, real Christmas trees will end up along the river banks in Arcadia Management Area in Southwestern Rhode Island.

Pelletier says, “It’s an important project, but it’s minimally invasive.”

At first, the trees will help young trout hide from predators.

Trout Unlimited RI Chapter President Glenn Place says, “The young of year are born in the springtime, and they hide into this revetment piece.  It provides more clutter, and more areas for them to survive.”

Over time, the trees will decompose and become part of the river bank, helping reduce erosion.

Pelletier says, “This is a multipurpose installation, where it can protect the banks, it can confine the river channels, deepening the channel.”

It’s something that already happens naturally when trees near the river fall in and decompose.  Last year, 40 donated trees were installed as part of the pilot program, and they’re already beginning to blend in with the stream bank.  This year, they had already received 30 trees by noon on the first dropoff day.

Place says, “It’s nice to see people want to be out there and help, and be part of the environment.”

There are two more dropoff days scheduled: January 10th and 11th at Camp E Hun Tee in Exeter.  Trees must be free of tinsel, ornaments, and chemicals.

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