Southeastern rounding up Christmas trees for marsh restoration
Contact: Tonya Lowentritt
HAMMOND – Taking the time to haul your Christmas tree to a recycling site after it has done its decorating duty will turn an annual disposal chore into a good deed, according to Fred Mars Stouder, marsh restoration coordinator for Southeastern Louisiana University’s Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station.
The tree that brightened your holidays can help rebuild fragile marsh areas that were battered by Louisiana’s catastrophic hurricanes, said Stouder, who heads Turtle Cove’s annual Christmas tree collection program.
Stouder said that with the assistance of the city of Hammond three (3) tree collection sites have been established this year at Hammond’s recycling center on 18104 Hwy 190 East, at the Ponchatoula Maintenance Facility in the 300 block of N. 4th St. by the baseball field behind the Community Center, and at a location yet to be determined by the Kentwood Rotary Club on Avenue G. between Verges Dental Clinic and Peoples Bank in Kentwood.
There are no containers provided this year, so the trees will just be placed on the ground in designated areas. Trees will be accepted from Jan. 2nd through about the 8th or so he said.
“We want to thank Hammond City Streets Superintendent Buddy Rigdel, who has been a big help in organizing the collection and transportation of the trees,” Stouder added.
“We lose a lot of marsh every time a storm comes in,” he said. “Every year thousands of Christmas trees are discarded in landfills, where they take up valuable space and serve no purpose. If these trees are brought to one of the collection sites, they will be used to protect our coast and our wetland areas. The trees also help fight erosion and establish animal habitats extremely well.”
Southeastern has been participating in a Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Christmas tree marsh restoration project since 1995.
Approximately 2000 trees annually are placed in the Pass Manchac area in locations such as Jones Island and the Prairie. Stouder said they really need a lot more trees and are counting on the public’s participation.
The trees are used to construct brush fences and shoreline levees that reduce wave energies to slow erosion and allow the capture of suspended sediment. Stouder said the trees are also useful in the preservation and enhancement of habitat for wetland animals.
“We can only accept real trees without flocking, plastic wrapping or ornaments and lights,” he said. “Please bring your trees where they will do a great service for us all and keep them out of the already crowded landfill.”
For information regarding the drop off locations: contact Buddy Rigdel (Hammond Recycyling Center), 985-542-3525; Charles Zweifel (Ponchatoula Maintenance Facility), 985-662-4853; Joey Miller (Kentwood Rotary Club), 985-229-8111.