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Old Christmas trees become new home for fish

Discarded holiday pines are turned into nesting grounds for lucky pikes under an ongoing project by a Montana fishing club.
/ Source: The Associated Press

BOZEMAN, Mont. — More than 1,000 old Christmas trees were loaded onto a flatbed truck and taken to a lake with the hope of deep-sixing them — literally.

A walleye fishing club Saturday dumped the trees on the banks of Canyon Ferry Lake, one step in a plan to create a suitable nesting space for perch to lay their eggs, which will hatch and become food for other fish, namely walleye (also known as yellow pike).

"Some people think we're crazy," said Marvin Hansen, president of a local chapter of Walleyes Unlimited, the group doing the picking up and the dumping.

What makes the effort even more unusual is that no one is sure how effective it will be. "There's no proof it works," Hansen said. "But there's no evidence against it, either."

The group has been tree-dumping for almost a decade, hoping that laying a Christmas tree carpet on the lake bottom will improve the lake's ecosystem. They are officially authorized by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks to dump the trees.

In a few months, Walleye Unlimited members will drill holes into the trunks, thread cables though, and attach the cables to cinder blocks. Then the trees will be dragged to a spot on the frozen lake to wait for the thaw, when the trees sink to the bottom.