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Christmas trees are used as fish habitat in Montana

Pines for Perch.jpg
Posted at 9:40 AM, Jan 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-09 11:40:35-05

HELENA - Pines for Perch is a program that works to recycle Christmas trees, giving them a second purpose beyond the holiday season.

The Pines for Perch program was started back in 1999 in the face of declining perch levels.

The program is a joint effort between the City of Helena; Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; the DNRC; and the Boy Scouts of America.

The program works to collect Christmas trees from the holiday season.

The trees are then transported to Canyon Ferry and strung together at their base with a cable and weighed down with cinder blocks.

Helicopters are used to drop the string of trees into the lake.

The trees sink to the bottom of the lake and work as perch habitat, giving the fish a spawning area among the trees.

“You know, we're trying to do what we can, you know, at a smaller scale with the Pines for Perch. You know, there's a lot of organizations involved. It's a feel-good project. You know, everyone feels good at the end of the day that you've done something. And it's a great way to recycle Christmas trees,” says Helena Area Senior Fisheries Technician for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), Troy Humphrey.

Over the past 10 years, FWP has seen a pretty steady population for the perch and gives credit, in part, to this program. Perch are a food source for walleye and the trees provide shelter for the smaller fish to spawn and grow.