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Christmas trees to boost fish habitat at Claytor Lake

Even in the middle of winter, staff and volunteers at Claytor Lake State Park stay busy with work to keep the park at its best.
Thursday morning, as state park employees, fishermen, volunteers from the Friends of Claytor Lake and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) staff from across the region braved the cold and worked together to deposit 150 Christmas trees into the lake, their dedication to the year-round maintenance of the park was evident.
The Christmas tree drop-off is an annual project in which trees are deposited into designated locations in the lake, where they are left to ultimately enhance fish habitats.
About five years ago, David Collett, park manager at Claytor Lake State Park, said he started thinking about ways to increase activity at the park during the winter months.
With the help of John Copeland, a fisheries biologist with DGIF, Collett developed the idea of using Christmas trees as a resource to enhance fish habitats within the lake.
He figured that after the holidays, most Christmas trees would be chipped, burned or destroyed in some way, so this project would put them to better use.

Now, each year, the park accepts donations of Christmas trees, which are tied to concrete, loaded onto boats, and then placed into specific areas, primarily public access areas, in the lake.
Collett explained that the trees then attract algae, which attracts fish, and eventually attracts larger fish.
“It creates an opportunity for fishermen to catch more fish here,” Collett said, noting that Claytor Lake is known for being a difficult lake to catch fish.
This drop-off is an annual project because over a period of about five to eight years, the trees start to degrade, so it is necessary to refurbish the areas with new trees, Collett said.
He added that this is a project that he is proud of, and that completing it is really a team effort that couldn’t be done without all of the staff, volunteers, and donations, particularly from Marshall Concrete in Christiansburg, which donates concrete every year for the project.
Ronnie Powers said that the Friends of Claytor Lake, for which he serves as president, has supported the Christmas tree drop-off for the past four years. He said they consider it a great outreach project because it helps to recycle the trees, and it increases the quality of the lake for fishermen.

Christmas trees to boost fish habitat at Claytor Lake

Even in the middle of winter, staff and volunteers at Claytor Lake State Park stay busy with work to keep the park at its best.
Thursday morning, as state park employees, fishermen, volunteers from the Friends of Claytor Lake and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) staff from across the region braved the cold and worked together to deposit 150 Christmas trees into the lake, their dedication to the year-round maintenance of the park was evident.
The Christmas tree drop-off is an annual project in which trees are deposited into designated locations in the lake, where they are left to ultimately enhance fish habitats.
About five years ago, David Collett, park manager at Claytor Lake State Park, said he started thinking about ways to increase activity at the park during the winter months.
With the help of John Copeland, a fisheries biologist with DGIF, Collett developed the idea of using Christmas trees as a resource to enhance fish habitats within the lake.
He figured that after the holidays, most Christmas trees would be chipped, burned or destroyed in some way, so this project would put them to better use.

Now, each year, the park accepts donations of Christmas trees, which are tied to concrete, loaded onto boats, and then placed into specific areas, primarily public access areas, in the lake.
Collett explained that the trees then attract algae, which attracts fish, and eventually attracts larger fish.
“It creates an opportunity for fishermen to catch more fish here,” Collett said, noting that Claytor Lake is known for being a difficult lake to catch fish.
This drop-off is an annual project because over a period of about five to eight years, the trees start to degrade, so it is necessary to refurbish the areas with new trees, Collett said.
He added that this is a project that he is proud of, and that completing it is really a team effort that couldn’t be done without all of the staff, volunteers, and donations, particularly from Marshall Concrete in Christiansburg, which donates concrete every year for the project.
Ronnie Powers said that the Friends of Claytor Lake, for which he serves as president, has supported the Christmas tree drop-off for the past four years. He said they consider it a great outreach project because it helps to recycle the trees, and it increases the quality of the lake for fishermen.