Households that still have their Christmas trees can use their greenery for good rather than dumping them on the sidewalk for the trashmen.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, in partnership with the Rhode Island chapter of Trout Unlimited, is sponsoring the “Trees for Trout” program to restore the habitat for brook trout. Conifer Christmas trees can be donated from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Arcadia check station, 2224 Ten Rod Road, Exeter.
The collection event was started by Trout Unlimited in 2018 to assist in restoration projects to fish habitats in the flowing freshwaters of Rhode Island. The trees are stored outside until the following summer when they are used to build “conifer revetments,” in which trees are strategically placed along riverbanks to provide stability and control erosion. The trees trap sediment, decompose and gradually become part of the banks themselves. The tree branches along the edges of the water will also offer protection for aquatic animals seeking a place to hide from predators.
Rivers are dynamic and constantly changing. In impaired stretches of rivers, channels often become wider than they should, and are absent of necessary habitat to support aquatic life. When banks erode, sediment is carried away by flows that fill in pools downstream. Conifer revetments act to stabilize eroding banks by slowing the flow of water and accumulating sediments. They also help narrow the river channel and confine the flow so that there is deeper water during low flows and more habitat for fish.
The public should never dispose of Christmas trees in waterways or beaches. A considerable amount of planning goes into deciding where and how to construct these features. Modifying waterways without a permit, moreover, is illegal under Rhode Island’s Freshwater Wetlands Act.