The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is once again participating in a successful partnership to recycle used Christmas trees into prime habitat for fish and other wildlife at Lake Oroville and the Thermalito Afterbay. The discarded holiday trees are bundled together to create “habitat structures”, providing juvenile fish safe refuge and thereby improving fisheries in the area.
The Christmas tree collection is led by Boy Scout Troop 2 – Chico. Now in its 22nd year of partnering with DWR, the troop collected over 1,000 Christmas trees in January from Chico area residents who signed up for their collection. Chico State University’s Geographic Information Center aided the Scouts by developing maps to locate and plan their routes to participating residences. The Scouts deposited truckloads of trees, large and small, at designated drop-off locations where local partner Recology, a waste management company, transported the trees to Lake Oroville’s Bidwell Canyon Boat Launch area and the Thermalito Afterbay.
DWR hires crews of Corpsmembers from the California Conservation Corps for several weeks in January and February to assemble the trees into habitat. They use a system of wire rope to anchor the structures in suitable areas of Lake Oroville and the Afterbay.
Installing the trees as underwater habitat to promote fish survival also provides the area with improved recreational fishing opportunities for largemouth bass, spotted bass, channel catfish, bluegill and green sunfish. DWR is committed to continuing this program and other innovative methods of improving the fish habitat at Lake Oroville, the Thermalito Afterbay, and the Feather River.