Over 1,500 post-yuletide yule logs were collected by the USACE and a group of hard-working local volunteers on January 7th of 2014. The weather doesn’t always cooperate but this year everyone got lucky – Mother Nature provided an abundance of bright sunshine and the northeastern Georgia skies were brilliant blue with nary a cloud in sight. A great day to recycle… but really, so is ANY day if truth be told. Once collected, the trees are brought to various boat ramps around the shores of the lake. Each tree is then weighted with a pre-cast concrete block and lowered by winch into the lake. Unlike artificial reefs built in ocean waters, freshwater lakes like Lake J. Strom Thurmond are devoid of significant tides and currents so the recycled trees stay pretty much where they’re placed. The fish attractor project is one way the USACE keeps in touch with Lake J. Strom Thurmond, which was created by the J. Strom Thurmond Dam during 1951 and 1952 by… you guessed it, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Three weeks later on January 27th, the USACE and a posse of enthusiastic local volunteers – more than a few of whom are fisherman, one might presume – were back for another go at Operation Tree Recycle. This time, park rangers such as Asher Alexander (shown above) assisted the USACE in collecting used natural Christmas trees previously trimmed of any tinsel or other artificial accoutrements. As with the January 7th effort at Lake J. Strom Thurmond, the trees were trucked to boat ramps located around the 962-mile shore of Lake Hartwell on the Georgia/South Carolina border. Lake Hartwell is a man-made lake created by the construction of the Hartwell Dam between 1955 and 1962, thus all of its fish have either been introduced or migrated from the Tugaloo, Seneca and Savannah rivers. One might say the bounty of fish gravitating to the lake’s new recycled tree fish attractors provides a certain kind of “deliverance” to local and area fisherman. Cue the banjos and fade to black. (all images via the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Flickr, graciously provided via a Creative Commons license)