Southeastern adds research project, new partner in Christmas tree recycling project
Friday, December 19, 2014
by: Rene Abadie
RECYCLING TREES – Southeastern students taking environmental awareness unload and place recycled Christmas trees last year in the Lake Manchac area.
HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University has added a pilot research project and a new partner to its annual Christmas tree collection effort designed to enhance wetland restoration efforts in the Pass Manchac area.
Southeastern scientists at the university's Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station, located on Pass Manchac between lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas, use the discarded trees to help build up marshland in areas that have been impacted by erosion and other factors.
Turtle Cove Manager Rob Moreau said the university received approval from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to initiate a pilot project to determine whether the recycled trees can help rebuild the logging ditches, formed when the area's cypress forests were cut down over a hundred-plus year span.
"The ditches allow salt water intrusion and increase the erosion process," Moreau said. "This year we plan to place trees in some selected ditches to determine if they can accumulate enough sediment that might assist in filling them in. We'll monitor and evaluate this process over the next several years to determine its feasibility. If successful, this technique could be used in other similarly stressed ecosystems in coastal Louisiana."
A new partner in the project is the Southeastern Sustainability Center on North Oak St., which will serve as a drop-off point for area residents to leave their used Christmas trees. Traditional partners include the city of Hammond and Middendorfs Restaurant in Manchac, as drop-off sites. In addition, Lowes in Hammond again will donate unsold trees.
Trees can be dropped off beginning Dec. 26 from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Hammond Maintenance facility, 18104 Hwy. 190 next to Piggly Wiggly Super Market, and at the Southeastern Sustainability Center, 2101 North Oak Street, beginning Jan. 5 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. Moreau said a Turtle Cover drop off site will also be maintained at Middendorfs Restaurant.
He said the City of Hammond will provide transport of collected trees to the Turtle Cove boat house parking lot area in Manchac where they will be stored until they are deployed in the marshes.
No flocked trees will be accepted, and all trees should be stripped of any ornaments, lights, or tinsel.
This marks the 20th straight year Southeastern has conducted its recycled tree program, which in the past was supported with funds from the state's Natural Resources Program.
"Since the grant was discontinued several years ago, we've had to rely mainly on volunteers and students from various university courses, such as my Environmental Awareness course," Moreau said. "Since 1995 we've deployed approximately 35,000 Christmas trees in the marsh on the edges of islands and land masses in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin."
Moreau said the benefits of the tree recycling program include protection against shoreline erosion, building of land to offset subsidence and sea-level rise, creation of new habitats for plants and animals and reducing waste going to landfills.
"The program is also a great way to conduct community service and environmental education from a hands-on standpoint for people of all ages," he 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.