Parish drop-off sites available until Jan. 17
Though the practice of recycling Christmas trees has lessened statewide, 2018 marks the 32nd year St. Charles Parish has collected tree donations in order to enhance wetlands protection and enhancement efforts.
The St. Charles Parish Public Works Department picked up live Christmas trees for recycling curbside around the parish this week, while drop-off sites are available at the East and West Bank Bridge Parks in Destrehan and Luling until Jan. 17.
The trees will be used for coastal restoration in the Bayou Gauche area.
St. Charles Parish was the first parish in the state to adopt a Christmas tree recycling project when it began doing so in 1987. But with fewer and fewer people purchasing real Christmas trees, the state no longer provides funding for the project, said St. Charles Parish Planning Administrator Earl Matherne, thus many parishes have dropped the practice over the past few years.
Matherne said he believes St. Charles is the only parish that continues the practice annually, with other parishes opting to do a project every few years or drop it altogether.
“St. Charles Parish was the first parish to adopt the program, and seems to be the last one too,” Matherne said. “There may be another annual project, but I don’t know of it.”
The Christmas trees are used in the marsh to create barriers to fast moving tidal waters and reduce wave action, which helps reduce the erosion cause by the moving water and slows it down enough to allow suspended sediments to drop out, therefore creating land.
“The ready availability of these trees and their bushy nature makes them ideal for this use,” Matherne said. “Additionally it keeps them from going into the landfill so it has that environmental benefit too … because the trees come from people’s homes, it’s a direct way for folks to participate in the project.”
Last year, about 2,500 trees were collected and it was used to complete the filling of a 100 foot pen with the trees from the previous two years.
Matherne said the Christmas tree pens have proven to protect fragile shorelines from waves in the LaBranche Wetlands and to reduce the depth of several ponds in Bayou Gauche, allowing aquatic vegetation to grow again.
Trees must be stripped of all decorations. Flocked trees will not be accepted.