Southeastern is asking area citizens to give the environment a gift after Christmas this year. Discarded Christmas trees can be dropped off and used for a wetland restoration rather than throwing them out with the trash.
“We can put the old Christmas trees to work in our area marshland while also reducing the waste stream going into landfills,” said Rob Moreau, manager of Southeastern’s Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station located on Pass Manchac between lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas.
Although grant funding from the state for Christmas Tree recycling in many areas ended years ago, local partners have stepped up with donations to fund the collection of trees and make the project possible. This marks the 25th straight year Southeastern has conducted its recycled tree program. Moreau depends on volunteers and students to deploy the trees in the Manchac wetlands. It is estimated that approximately 40,000 trees have been deployed through the Southeastern program since that time.
Southeastern scientists at Turtle Cove use the discarded trees to help build up marshland in areas that have been impacted by erosion and other factors, said Moreau.
Moreau said the trees will be used in a variety of ways, including ongoing research on the trees’ effects on helping to fill in test logging ditches, creation of Christmas tree “mounds” to create habitats for wildlife and, of course, help to control erosion along various shorelines, most recently occurring on Galva Canal, and in areas around the research station itself on Pass Manchac.
This practice also provides hands-on environmental education opportunities for students and other volunteers who help with the project.
Collaborating in the project for the fifth year is the Southeastern Sustainability Center on North Oak Street, which will serve as a drop-off point for area residents to leave their used Christmas trees. Other partners include the city of Hammond and Middendorf’s Restaurant in Manchac, and a Christmas tree supplier, whose farm is located in North Carolina, for their leftover trees.
Trees can now also be taken to Pennington’s Hardware and Screenprinting, located at 407 Highway 22 W. in Madisonville.
Trees can be dropped off through Mardi Gras from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hammond Maintenance facility, 18104 Hwy. 190, next to Piggly Wiggly Super Market. The Southeastern Sustainability Center, 2101 North Oak Street, will collect trees through the end of the month from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 to 10 a.m. on Friday, and Pennington’s Hardware and Screenprinting will accept trees during the same time period during normal business hours daily. Moreau said a Turtle Cove trailer drop-off site is also maintained at Middendorf’s Restaurant.
He said the city of Hammond will again provide transport of collected trees to the Turtle Cove Galva Canal parking lot area in Manchac, where they will be stored until they are deployed in the marshes in the spring.
No flocked trees will be accepted, and all trees should be stripped of any ornaments, lights, tinsel, stands, nails and screws, etc.
“This greatly helps our efforts to get the trees quickly deployed,” Moreau said.
Donations to help support the activity can be sent by check payable to “Friends of Turtle Cove” and mailed to Southeastern Box 10585, Hammond, LA 70402 or can be made by credit card by visiting the Turtle Cove web site and under the “Friends and Donors” link.
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