CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The evergreen tree which created such joyful times in December in many ways can create more joyful times when it is repurposed by the Division of Natural Resources.
The DNR along with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection collected hundreds of used Christmas trees in Charleston during the first part of January. Those trees are now being distributed across the state and becoming fish attractors in various state waters.
“This year they were delivered to Burnsville, Summersville, East Lynn, Beech Fork, Cheat, and even some are going to be put out at Moncove Lake,” said DNR Fisheries Biologist Jeff Hansbarger who oversees the collection and distribution of the trees.
The collection is an annual event, but different waters receive the trees from year to year.
“They’ll last anywhere from one to three years, Their decay is increased by the fluctuation in water level,” Hansbarger explained. “If they were inundated with water the whole time, they’d last a lot longer, but being dry and then wet speeds up the process of them breaking down.”
The trees will be positioned in the days and weeks to come. DNR personnel will take advantage of the lower lake levels to get into the areas which are already designated as fish attraction areas to give them a freshening of new vegetation ahead of spring fishing temperatures. The trees create cover for fish, which is lacking in many West Virginia waters where Corps of Engineer lakes were timbered ahead of being flooded leaving few places for bait fish to hide.
“Mainly around the fishing piers,” said Hansbarger. “We’ll put trees around the pier, and later in the spring when the reservoirs are brought back up, we’ll sink some at those sites offshore. Generally we already have those sites established and we’re just sprucing them up, so to speak.”
Each of the Christmas tree piles is marked on the DNR’s interactive fishing maps.
Labor to place the trees comes from DNR personnel as well as volunteers like fishing clubs around the state.