National Wildlife Refuge System

Recycling Christmas Trees

Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, LA.
Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, LA
Credit: USFWS

Refuges in Southeast Louisiana will once again use recycled Christmas trees to protect and enhance wetlands.  Over the past 15 years, up to 300 acres have been protected at Bayou Sauvage, Big Branch Marsh and Mandalay National Wildlife Refuges, LA.

Trees free of tinsel, decorations and stands are collected throughout the month of January by the city of New Orleans and local parishes. Delivered to refuges and other coastal areas, the trees are then placed in wooden cribs, which break the waves that erode wetlands. They are moved into place with the help of many volunteers, often in boats. In the case of Bayou Sauvage Refuge, the trees are dropped into place from Air National Guard helicopters. Eventually, the trees decompose into sediment.

James Harris, acting project leader for the Southeast Louisiana Refuge Complex, says media coverage of the tree recycling project means most people know the trees that decorated their homes for the holidays are now helping to protect valuable wetlands.
Last updated: December 30, 2009