Old Christmas Tree, New Marsh Habitat

By Samantha Carter, Outreach Manager, Mississippi River Delta Restoration

Did you drop your old Christmas tree on the curb in New Orleans on January 7th to 9th?

If so, you’re helping to save the coast!

The New Orleans Christmas Tree Recycling Program collects those old Christmas trees and strategically drops bundles of them into the wetlands in Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. These trees create wave breaks and trap sediment, producing new marsh habitat that supports growth of native grasses. Over the years, the program has replenished approximately 175 acres of wetlands in Bayou Sauvage.

The program also acts as a training exercise for the Louisiana National Guard who uses UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters to pick up the tree bundles and place them into a grid in the marsh.

  • Blackhawk helicopter picks up a bundle of Christmas trees.
    Blackhawk helicopter picks up a bundle of Christmas trees.

Building protective marsh barriers out of recycled Christmas trees with US Fish & Wildlife and the National Guard today!

A post shared by Restore the MS River Delta (@restoredelta) on


Louisiana National Guard trains with the Blackhawk Helicopters.

Louisiana National Guard trains with the Blackhawk Helicopters.

The Christmas Tree Recycling Program is a simple way to help rebuild your coastal ecosystem.

Be on the lookout for next year’s collection dates!

As Senior Outreach Coordinator, Samantha Carter works to develop and implement outreach and engagement strategies to advance the priorities of the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Program for the National Wildlife Federation. Focusing on the Greater New Orleans area, she educates and engages community leaders and other key stakeholders, including elected officials and neighborhood associations, to address the alarming loss of coastal wetlands in Louisiana. Additionally, Samantha helps coordinate the MRGO Must Go Coalition – a group of 17 environmental, community, and social justice organizations working to restore the degraded wetland ecosystem that protects the Greater New Orleans area from storm surge.