City of New Orleans Christmas Tree Recycling Program Celebrates 20 Years of Protecting Wetlands
By Samantha Carter, National Wildlife Federation
Where does your Christmas tree go when you leave it at the curb?
If you participated in the New Orleans tree recycling program this year, then as of April 2nd your tree is now in the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge.
After your tree was picked up off of the curb in January, it was sorted and bundled by the Department of Sanitation with help from the city’s Office of Coastal and Environmental Affairs. Then teams from the Louisiana Army National Guard Aviation Command, based in Hammond, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service met Thursday, April 2 in New Orleans East to airdrop the bundles into the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge.
The National Guard uses the event as a training exercise with two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters which pick up the tree bundles and place them into cribs set up in the marsh. The tree cribs are placed in strategic locations in the marsh to reduce wave action, slow erosion and protect the natural marsh and shoreline habitat. The trees also trap sediments to help create new habitat. Over the years the project has helped to re-establish approximately 175 acres in the Wildlife Refuge.
Thousands of people in Orleans Parish participate in this program every year and several other parishes in southern Louisiana have programs of their own. The Christmas tree recycling program is a great way for communities to get involved in restoring the coast. Participation in the program also helps keep the trees from being incinerated or ending up in landfills.
A big thanks to the City of New Orleans, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Louisiana Army National Guard and all those who recycled their trees this year. Be sure to keep your ears open for next year’s tree pick up days!