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Discarded Christmas Trees Approved As Habitat For Lake Elsinore's Fish

'This is a pretty important thing. It helps the environment. It's a good program,' Supervisor Marion Ashley said.

Riverside County supervisors Tuesday authorized giving many of the Christmas trees collected this year by the county for recycling to a state program aimed at securing fish habitat.

"This is a pretty important thing. It helps the environment. It's a good program," Supervisor Marion Ashley said after voting with all four of his colleagues to support the effort.

The county's Department of Waste Management expects to collect around two tons of discarded trees in the post-holiday season and proposes to turn a large part of the haul over to the California Department of Fish and Game.

According to county officials, the DFG is attempting to fortify Lakes Elsinore, Gregory, Hemet and Perris to preserve small fish populations by protecting them from larger predatory fish.

"Trees are sunk to a depth of 10 to 15 feet in lakes that have very little vegetation to provide a place for the smaller fish to hide," according to a waste management document. "Each tree is drilled at the base, and a rope is tied to a concrete block weight and then sunk."

State officials expressed an interest in taking all the trees that the county cares to spare.

Supervisor John Benoit asked whether trees in the Coachella Valley would be included in the program, but Waste Management General Manager Hans Kernkamp said they wouldn't, apparently because of the distance from the lakes. Instead, the fallen timber will be recycled at a desert composting facility.

Every year, from December 26 until January 9, the county operates a recycling program in which discarded trees collected by waste management at curbsides and at the Lamb Canyon and Badlands landfills are transported to a green waste processing facilities for recycling. This season, many will go to the DFG.

Kernkamp reminded the public that the county waives all dumping fees for trees brought to the landfills.

Charlie Garvin November 27, 2012 at 11:58 PM
I think it is a wonderful idea. If it helps to save the lake and its fish that is great. I had a neighbor in MI who used the Christmas trees for compost. He would have all of us kids drag the trees to his yard.
Reverend Smith November 28, 2012 at 01:59 AM
I hope someone checks this out with an aquatic biologist or the DFG or something. Rotting vegetation usually give off carbon dioxide that will probably lead to more fish dye-offs.
Ken Mayes November 28, 2012 at 03:01 AM
A better idea would be to sink the glass bottom boat in the center of the lake. This program is going to be hard pressed to sink these trees deep enough to not trip the water skiers.
Roberto November 28, 2012 at 05:39 AM
This has gone on for years. It's outt of the way and creates fish spawning habitat. This is nothing new to Lake Elsinore.

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