SUTTON, W.Va. — As you start to take down those Christmas decorations if  who have a real Christmas tree there is an option to give that tree a second life. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is staging a tree collection at Sutton Lake through the month of January.

“Each year we try to give back to the lake and we have a Christmas tree donation program,” said Ranger Dylan Johnson at Sutton Lake. “We use donated Christmas trees to establish reefs in the lake as fish habitat.”

The collections points are located at the south abutment right at Sutton Dam and at the Bee Run Recreation Area. You need only to drive up to those areas and off load your trees into the growing pile.

“We take as many as we can in partnership with the DNR and hope to get 100 or more,” explained Johnson. “We’ll accept them until February 2nd and we will coordinate with DNR and put them in the lake.”

The trees are interlocked together with ropes or string and anchored to the bottom with rocks and cinder blocks. The submerged evergreens create hiding spots for smaller fish species and attract larger fish to feed and hide. The habitat areas are replenished every three to five years as the trees deteriorate.

Sutton Lake is just one collection point, many other Corps Lakes in West Virginia have similar programs. Additional collections are made at places like Charleston’s Capital Market. The trees are then distributed by the DNR and Department of Environmental Protection to various waters across West Virginia.

The tree needs to be completely bare according to Johnson. All tinsel, icicles, ornaments or other decorations need to be completely removed before the tree is left at the water’s edge.

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