Used Christmas trees become fish habitat at Thurmond and Hartwell lakes

This holiday season, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is turning used Christmas trees into fish habitat at J. Strom Thurmond Lake and Hartwell Lake.

The Corps will accept used, real Christmas trees (not artificial trees) for recycling Dec. 19 through Jan. 9 at Thurmond Lake, and from Dec. 26 through Feb. 15 at Hartwell Lake. The recycled trees will be placed in various locations throughout the lakes to enhance fish habitat.

“The submerged trees attract fish because they provide cover for small fish as well as a substrate for algae growth, which creates a feeding area for smaller fish,” said Jamie Sykes, Corps of Engineers’ fisheries biologist. “These small fish attract larger species, thus creating an enticing “hot spot” for anglers.”

Park rangers place recycled Christmas trees in Hartwell Lake.

All decorations such as tinsel, lights, garland and bulbs must be removed from the trees before dropping them off for recycling.

“This program provides a great service to the local community by reducing materials handled by local landfills, and it provides a great resource to lake visitors looking for a great place to spend a few hours fishing,” said Ken Boyd, Corps’ wildlife biologist.

Thurmond Lake Drop-Off: Trees can be dropped off Dec. 19 through Jan. 9 at Riverside Middle School at 1095 Furys Ferry Road in Evans, Ga. Dumping of wireframe wreaths, yard debris, and household trash at the site is strictly prohibited.

Corps rangers and volunteers will place submerged trees around fishing piers and in other locations at Thurmond Lake to improve fishing habitat. Additional trees will be staged at select boat ramps around the lake for anglers to use. To obtain a list of locations where the trees will be available, contact the Corps’ Thurmond Lake Office at 1-800-533-3478 after January 10.

Hartwell Lake Drop-Off: Christmas trees can be dropped off Dec. 26 through Feb. 15 at the following locations on Hartwell Lake:

– Big Oaks Recreation Area, located on U.S. Hwy. 29, one mile past the Hartwell Dam in Hart County, Ga.

– Twin Lakes boat ramp (Pickens County, S.C.) From Interstate 85 in South Carolina, take exit 14, Hwy 187. Going north on Hwy 187 towards Pendleton, S.C. Immediately after passing Clemson Research Center, take a left on Fant’s Grove Road, follow directional signs to park.

– Coneross boat ramp (Coneross Park, S.C.) From Interstate 85 in South Carolina, take exit 11 on Hwy 24 towards Townville. 1.5 miles past Townville, turn right onto Coneross Creek Road. Directional signs will lead to the park entrance.

– Poplar Springs boat ramp (Franklin County, Ga.) From Lavonia, Ga., where GA 328 crosses I-85, go north on GA 328 for 3.5 miles, follow brown directional signs.

These trees can be picked up by fishermen any time for personal use until Feb. 15 at any of the above locations. Trees should be anchored in eight-to-twelve feet of water. Do not place Christmas trees in the main lake channel or around private docks.

Trees can also be dropped off from Dec. 26 through Jan. 15 at Mount Lebanon Elementary School in Pendleton, S.C. The school is located at 2850 Lebanon Rd. The drop-off area will be roped off near the entrance to the school.

For more information, contact the Hartwell Lake Manager’s Office toll free 1-888-893-0678. For a list of fish attractor locations and GPS coordinates at Hartwell Lake, visit: http://www.sas.usace.army.mil/lakes/hartwell/fishing.html

About US Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District oversees a multi-million dollar military construction program at 11 Army and Air Force installations in Georgia and North Carolina. We also manage water resources across the Coastal Georgia region, including maintenance dredging of the Savannah and Brunswick harbors; operation of three hydroelectric dams and reservoirs along the upper Savannah River; and administration of an extensive stream and wetland permitting and mitigation program within the state of Georgia. Follow us on Twitter @SavannahCorps and on Facebook.com/SavannahCorps
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