Christmas trees look great decked out in lights and ornaments, but after New Year's Day, the green bristles begin to turn brown. The tree that would be trash after the holiday season could be a fish's or gardener's treasure.
There are many uses for retired Christmas trees.
If you take your tree to designated areas around Thurmond Lake, it could become a habitat for fish and underwater insects.
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers puts bricks on them and submerges them," said David Quebedeaux, public relations official with the Corps of Engineers. "Individuals can also come pick up trees and submerge them."
Riverside Middle School in Evans and Plum Branch Yacht Club, Scotts Ferry Boat Ramp, Cherokee Boat Ramp, Amity Boat Ramp, Soap Creek Marina and Keg Creek Boat Ramp around Thurmond Lake will accept tree donations for fish habitats between Dec. 20 and Jan. 8. People must submerge trees where the water is at least 20 feet deep.
"We can't get enough Christmas trees," Quebedeaux said. "We had a couple thousand last year, and they were gone pretty quickly ... They attract anything. They provide shelter for fish and a nursery for juvenile fish, as well as a habitat for insects that the fish eat. It's a happy time for all those swimmers."
You also can drop your tree at the Columbia County landfill on Baker Place Road, to help disguise the flat space of shallow dirt and provide a haven for small mammals and insects.
"We can't grow trees where the garbage is buried. Christmas trees create little habitats for mice and rats," said Terry Glasscock, who works at the landfill. Instead of planting trees, the landfill ties Christmas trees in bunches on top of the soil.
The landfill accepts trees any time during the year, but will be closed New Year's Day.
If you take your tree to Home Depot, 499 Bobby Jones Expressway, on Jan. 10 between 9 and 4 p.m., it will be chopped into mulch for use by members of the community as part of Columbia County Clean & Beautiful's Bring One for the Chipper project. The service is free.
Columbia County residents can extend the lives of old Christmas trees by about two years if they recycle them at one of these locations. Turning a tree into mulch or an animal habitat also serves to keep trees from cluttering the area.
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