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Prepare to recycle your tree

Right now presents are under the Christmas tree and family pets are being tormented by bright, shiny objects and twinkling lights.

If you have remembered to water your tree and it has survived the cat’s onslaught, you have a few more days with it. So now is the time to figure out how exactly you want to dispose of it.

You could cut it up and put it in the garbage can, but a better option is recycling it. Oxford offers curbside pickup, where if you put your tree at the curb, a city employee will come get it and pick it up and recycle it instead of chucking it in the landfill.

Those trees picked up often wind up with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and you can even take a more active role in getting your tree to them.

Every December, volunteers and Sardis Lake staff gather to give discarded Christmas trees a shot at a second life. They place them into the lake bed when the lake is at conservation pool level. Hundreds of trees are placed in various spots around the lake. The trees settle in and when spring rains start to make the lake level rise, the trees submerge, creating a habitat for fish. The habitat gives the young fish and some spawning fish species a safe place from predators and it allows them to grow and mature to be the fish you want to go out there and catch.

But the discarded Christmas trees have an even bigger purpose out there at Sardis Lake. As the popular summer destination continues to age and due to fluctuating water levels yearly, underwater habitat keeps getting lost. The annual “Fish Habitat Day” post-Christmas will help restore that habitat.

Have a friend with a pond? Even a small pond on someone’s land can use a tree.

Enjoy watching birds or other small wildlife on your property? Put the Christmas tree out and create a “brush pile” where animals can seek safety. When the temperatures drop later this winter they also will be glad for the cover from the elements.

As long as you remove all the decorations and put them up for next year, the animals will be safe and sound.

Sick of your fake tree but don’t want to throw it in the trash? It can be recycled too by taking it to the Salvation Army, a thrift store or a women’s shelter.

Think ahead and make sure that even your Christmas tree can be the gift that keeps on giving.