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West Virginia DEP, DNR accepting used Christmas trees for use as fish habitat

Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — No use for a Christmas tree after the holidays? Two state agencies will take it for a fish-friendly purpose.

The state Department of Environmental Protection’s Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan (REAP) and the Division of Natural Resources will be accepting donated Christmas trees at Charleston’s Capitol Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 6, according to a news release.

REAP focuses on litter cleanup efforts in the state, providing a variety of assistance to communities in those efforts.

The trees will be used as fish habitats in one of nine West Virginia lakes after being repurposed, the release says.

Donors can also benefit. According to the release, donors can sign up to win a one-night stay at Twin Falls State Park in Wyoming County or a $25 Capitol Market gift certificate. The release also says tree donors will receive a gift from REAP.

Any size tree is acceptable, and there is no limit for how many trees can be donated. Donated trees cannot, however, be artificial. Lights, ornaments and tinsel have to be removed prior to donation.

The lakes that will use the donated Christmas trees are: Burnsville Lake in Braxton County; Stonewall Jackson Lake in Lewis County; Stonecoal Lake in Lewis and Upshur counties; Cheat Lake in Monongalia County; Moncove Lake in Monroe County; Tygart Lake in Taylor County; East Lynn Lake and Beech Fork Lake in Wayne County; and Big Ditch Lake in Webster County.

The practice of using Christmas trees as fish habitats has been done before by the agencies. In 2015, the Sunday Gazette-Mail reported the state “collected hundreds of trees” in the previous year’s donation drive. It said trees are carried by boat before being attached to an anchor and dropped to the lake floor.

“The trees act as attractants for structure-oriented fish such as crappie, bluegills and bass, and act as refuge areas where juvenile fish can hide from predators,” the report said.

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