There’s another use for that Christmas tree

Published 10:42 am Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Kentucky Lantern

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife will be collecting evergreen trees at 29 drop-off locations across the state from Dec. 26 through Jan. 15 as part of its annual effort known as  “Christmas for the Fishes” to recycle Christmas trees into fish habitat.

“The spirit of giving doesn’t have to end after the holidays,” said Spencer Phillips, supervisor of the fish habitat branch in a news release. “Natural Christmas trees donated to this program will be used to improve fish habitat, enhancing public lakes across the commonwealth for both fish and anglers.”

Email newsletter signup

Trees should be real, not artificial, and should be free of lights, garland and decorations. Limbs, wreaths, brush or other plants will not be accepted.

“Fish thrive in an environment that is full of different types of cover including trees and logs,” said Nick Keeton, foreman in the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife habitat branch. “The donated trees will help restore woody structures in lakes that decay over time, providing protective cover and shade for a variety of fish species.”

The release says the donated trees will be anchored to environmentally-friendly weights and submerged at various depths in different lakes and reservoirs across Kentucky to provide places for fish to feed, shelter and spawn. They make great refuge and feeding habitat for game fish, as well as small fish and invertebrates that are crucial for a thriving ecosystem.

“Sportfish species such as largemouth bass, bluegill and crappie all benefit from cover,” Phillips said. “Woody structure is fantastic but degrades over time. Through generous donations of natural Christmas trees, we replenish needed fish habitat in select lakes throughout Kentucky each year.”

The locations where trees are installed generally become hot spots for fish species targeted by anglers. These locations are recorded by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife staff and the GPS coordinates made available to anglers through the “Lakes with Fish Attractors” page on the department’s website.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is funded through the sale of fishing and hunting licenses, boat registrations and related grants. Conserving Kentucky’s fishes and their habitats and providing related recreational opportunities are important aspects of the department’s mission.

For more information about the Christmas tree recycling program or to find a drop-off location, visit the department’s website at or call 1-800-858-1549, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (ET) weekdays, excluding holidays.