Christmas trees become Habitat for the Holidays

LITTLE ROCK — Give this year’s Christmas tree another life after the yuletide celebrations by donating it to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Habitat for the Holidays program.

The long-held tradition of cutting down or purchasing a real Christmas tree for the holiday season has seen a huge increase throughout American homes this year. When the eggnog is finished and the last of the holiday feasts are over, many of these trees are destined to sit next to the road until the sanitation department picks them up.

“Instead of letting that tree go to waste, we have drop-off locations to improve angling throughout the state,” Colton Dennis, AGFC South Arkansas Fisheries Habitat Coordinator, said. “Throughout January anglers can create brush piles in nearby lakes from these donated trees, increasing fishing opportunities and habitat for themselves and other anglers.”

The drop-off locations act just like a “take-a-penny, leave-a-penny tray” at a cashier’s station, only it’s for fish. Anyone who wants to drop off their natural Christmas tree can just take it to a location and leave it. Any angler who wants to take the trees and sink them can do so. Anglers should bring their own rope and weights sink the trees.

“Cinder blocks and sandbags work well to sink the trees, and parachute cord works very well to bind trees together and attach them to the weight,” Dennis said. “By the time the cord deteriorates, the tree will be waterlogged enough to stay put.”

Dennis said the most Christmas trees will likely deteriorate within a year or two, but offer very good cover for small baitfish and ambush locations for larger sportfish until they rot away.

“The trees have lots of nooks and crannies, which we call interstitial spacing, for fish to hide in,” Dennis said. “But because they deteriorate quickly, we advise anglers to drop large groups of trees together. That way the main stems and larger branches will still form good cover when the smaller twigs and scales of the trees are gone.”

Artificial trees are not allowed at drop-off locations, and all ornaments, tinsel and lights should be removed before being dropped off.

Trees can be dropped off at any of the following locations until the end of January:

Northwest Arkansas

Beaver Lake – Highway 12 Access and AGFC Don Roufa Highway 412 Access

Lake Elmdale – Boat Ramp Access

Bob Kidd Lake – Boat Ramp Access

Crystal Lake – Boat Ramp Access

Northeast Arkansas

Jonesboro – Craighead Forest Park Lake boat ramp

Lake Bono – Boat Ramp Access

Lake Walcott – Crowley’s Ridge State Park Boat Ramp Access

Lake Charles – Boat Ramp Access

Lake Poinsett – Dam Boat Ramp Access

East-Central Arkansas

Cook’s Lake – Potlatch Conservation Education Center at 625 Cook’s Lake Road, Casscoe, or the bus lot across from Grand Avenue United Methodist Church in Stuttgart

Horseshoe Lake – Pat and Nancy Bonds Access

Lake Pickthorne – Boat Ramp Access

Southeast Arkansas

Lake Chicot – Connerly Bayou Access Area

Cane Creek – State Park Access

South-Central Arkansas

Camden – AGFC Regional Office on Ben Lane, next to the National Guard Armory

Upper White Oak Lake – Upper Jack’s Landing

Magnolia – Columbia County Road Department Yard on Arkansas Highway 371

El Dorado – City recycling center drop-offs: one at Union County Fairgrounds and one on South Jackson Street

Smackover – Recycling Drop-Off Center (these will be transported to El Dorado)

Southwest Arkansas

Bois d’Arc Lake – Kidd’s Landing or Hatfield Access

Millwood Lake – Cottonshed, White Cliffs Recreation Areas and the Millwood State Park ramp on the point

Dierks Lake – Jefferson Ridge South Recreation Area

De Queen Lake – Any U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat ramp

Gillham Lake – Any U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat ramp

Lake Greeson – New Cowhide Cove and Self Creek Recreation areas

South Fork Lake – South Fork Lake Access

Terre Noire Lake – Terre Noire Lake Access

Hope – AGFC Regional Office on U.S. Highway 67 East

West-Central Arkansas

Cox Creek Lake – Cox Creek Lake Public Access

Lake Hamilton – Andrew Hulsey State Fish Hatchery Access

Central Arkansas

Greers Ferry Lake – Sandy Beach, Devils Fork Recreation Area and Choctaw Recreation Area

Lake Conway – Lawrence Landing Access

Harris Brake Lake – Chittman Hill Access

Lake Overcup – Lake Overcup Landing

Lake Barnett – Reed Access