The Christmas tree that was so festive and pretty a couple of weeks ago is probably starting to look a little droopy by now.

So, what do you do with it?

A lot of folks throw their used Christmas trees into ponds or lakes to provide habitat for fish, but as Otis Bennett of the Cherokee County Conservation District pointed out, that may not be as easy this year as it has been in the past.

“Right now, you’re going to have trouble finding a pond deep enough to throw a Christmas tree into,” said Bennett. “We haven’t had much rain, and the ponds aren’t very deep. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the lake [Tenkiller] so low.”

Don Dixon, lead ranger for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Tenkiller, said used Christmas trees have been thrown into the lake in the past to provide fish habitat, but like Bennett, he suggested that – at least this year – potential tree-dumpers reconsider that option.

“There are fishermen’s clubs who get those trees and use them for fish shelter, but they need to do that in an organized way,” he said. “People can contact one of those clubs and see if they’ll take their tree, but we wouldn’t want just a whole lot of people throwing trees wherever they can. That can cause lots of problems for the boaters.”

Greg Gilliland, senior fishery biologist for the Oklahoma Wildlife Department, suggests that if you do happen to find some water deep enough, and you insist on throwing your Christmas tree into it, the following guidelines be observed:

• Weight it down in a small plastic planter with just a small bit of cement in the bottom, to keep the tree upright. “They provide better habitat standing up than they do laying down,” said Gilliland.

• Keep the tree completely submerged, so no air can get to it; it won't deteriorate as quickly if it's totally underwater.

• Get all the decorations, including tinsel, off of the tree; fish can use your tree, but they can't use your trash.

• Don't submerge trees that have artificial snow sprayed on them. It can be toxic to the fish.

Gilliland added that, when the Wildlife Department submerges trees for fish habitat, they usually use large oaks and cedars. Small Christmas trees usually just ending up being sticks after a while.

So, if that poor droopy tree isn’t even fit for fish habitat, what can you do with it?

It’s very simple, actually: Just throw it away with the rest of your trash.

“Other than putting them in ponds for fish habitat, there’s not much else, environmentally you can do with them,” said Bennett. “But they will biodegrade if you just throw them out.”

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