News Stories

Allatoona Christmas Tree Program Helps Fish and the Environment

USACE, Mobile District
Published Jan. 25, 2022
Allatoona Christmas Tree Program Helps Fish and the Environment

A local volunteer with the Marietta Bassmasters drags recycled Christmas Trees to be mounted as part of Allatoona Lake’s Christmas Tree Recycling Program on Jan. 22, 2022, at Allatoona Lake, Ga. The recycled trees are placed into the lake each year to provide habitat for the fish and improve fishing on the lake. (USACE photo by Chuck Walker)

MOBILE, Ala. – Bait is a very important part of fishing. A successful fisherman has to come up with the right bait or lure that attracts the fish and entices it to bite, and voila, you have a caught fish.

But, in order for there to be fish to be caught, there must be a healthy and abundant population of fish.

That’s where the Allatoona Lake Christmas Tree Recycling Program comes in.

Since 2005, Allatoona Lake Rangers and Volunteers as well as partners with the Georgia Departments of Natural Resources Wildlife Division (Georgia DNR), the Marietta Bassmasters, Keep Bartow Beautiful and the Boy Scouts have been placing recycled Christmas Trees in Allatoona Lake to not only provide a habitat for the fish, but to also improve the ecosystem of the Lake.

“Each year after Christmas we ask the public to donate the live trees they would normally throw away and drop them off at various drop points at our office or other drop points around the county,” said Chris Purvis, Lead Ranger at Allatoona Lake. “These trees provide a habitat for the fish population and creates better fishing down the road. The program has been very successful.”

The process of getting the trees into the Lake is done in January when the pool level of the Lake is 17 feet below normal. Once Allatoona Lake receives the trees, a hole is drilled into the base of each tree. Then trees are placed onto a concrete base and tied together with wire.

Each year a different area of the Lake is chosen place the trees, so each area of the lake is always being replenished with fish habitat.

Once the lake is raised to the summer pool level, those trees are now under water providing a new habitat for the fish.

Dan Pingel, an Allatoona Lake Ranger, said being a part of the project has been satisfying.

“I grew up on the lake, so being able to give back something to the lake that is impactful is gratifying,” Pingel said. “We have a great partnership with all the agencies that help us with this project. This helps the wildlife to succeed and being able to give back to the habitat is very fulfilling.”

Another way Allatoona Lake gets recycled Christmas Trees into the Lake is by the use of bamboo fish attractors. The attractors are built by Allatoona Lake volunteer Jimmy Moore. Moore builds a bamboo pyramid and the trees are then placed into the pyramid and the pyramids are anchored to a base. Concrete cinder blocks are then placed on the sides that ensure the pyramids with the trees sink to the bottom, thus allowing trees to be placed in deeper parts of the lake, ensuring fish habitat is present throughout the lake.

“The fish attractors allow for smaller fish to get inside and be protected from bigger fish, allowing them to grow,” said Moore. “These attractors don’t deteriorate, which is very important for the lake. I’ve been building these for six years and we have had no problems with them. It has helped the fish population of the lake to grow and has helped the overall habitat of the lake.”

One partner who has been pleased with not only the project, but the partnership with USACE Allatoona Lake and others, is Jim Hakala, Region Fisheries Supervisor with the Georgia DNR.

Hakala said the project has significantly improved fishing on the lake.

For Purvis, it has been personally gratifying to see not only the growth of the program, but to see how it has strengthened USACE’s partnership with the local community and agencies and improved Allatoona Lake.

“The growth of the program over the years has allowed us to install thousands of trees, we’ll install over 200 this year alone,” Purvis said. “It has strengthened our partnerships; it has improved the lake and improved fishing and the fish habitat on the lake. It has increased visitation to our lake and it has improved the overall ecosystem.”