National Wildlife Refuge System

Recycling Christmas Trees at Bayou Sauvage Refuge

Tree Recycle
More than 8,000 Christmas trees were airlifted into the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, LA.
Credit: USFWS
Recycled Christmas trees form a breakwater to collect deposits of natural sediment, helping to re-establish marsh habitat.
Credit: USFWS

February 24, 2014 - More than 8,000 Christmas trees collected in New Orleans after the holidays have been airlifted into the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, LA, as part of the 15th annual “Christmas Tree Drop.”

The trees are used to establish a breakwater in open ponds on the refuge.  Most of the freshwater marsh units in the refuge are inside hurricane and flood-protection levees and unable to collect natural sediment deposits.  A 600-foot line of recycled trees will trap sediment to hold native marsh grasses, helping to create new productive marsh habitat.  Since the project began, about 175 acres of marsh have been re-established on the refuge. Bayou Sauvage Refuge is one of the largest urban refuges in the country and marks one of the last stops for migratory birds before hitting open water.

The project is a joint effort with the city of New Orleans and the Louisiana Army National Guard, which dropped the trees in coastal zones selected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Last updated: February 24, 2014